Lytham St. Annes, England Michelle Wie walked off the course at Royal Lytham pleased with her par saves on the final two holes. Then she walked into the recorders' office and realized her effort was all for naught.
Wie was penalized two strokes for making contact with a piece of moss behind her ball during her backswing while hitting out of a greenside bunker at the 14th. That left her with an 2-over 74 Friday and a two-day total of 4-over 148 at the Women's British Open - 10 shots behind leader Juli Inkster.
"There was a piece of moss right behind my ball," she said. "I knew I hit it, but I didn't think it would result in a penalty of two strokes. I thought if you hit dirt it would be OK, but I guess I knew the rule wrong.
"It's not good after you play you find out you add two more shots in the end. The par saves I made on 17 and 18 feel as though they count for nothing in the end."
Inkster had an even-par 72, leaving her at 6-under 138, three shots better than Silvia Cavalleri of Italy. Inkster is seeking her eighth major and, if she can hold on, the 46-year-old would become the oldest golfer to win an LPGA Tour major.
"I'm very happy with the way I played today, the way I got it in, the way I got myself around this golf course," Inkster said.
Wie, meanwhile, seems to have little chance of winning her first tournament. The 16-year-old from Hawaii entered with high hopes after a second-place finish at last week's Evian Masters and top-five finishes in her previous four majors. But she is tied for 37th.
"It is even going to be even a more dramatic finish," she said.
The fact she had touched the moss behind her ball was noticed by TV viewers and also tournament officials.
Asked if Friday's infraction would cause her to go back and closely examine the rule book, Wie joked, "Well, it is not actually great reading material, but I am going to definitely call a rules official if something questionable happens."
Annika Sorenstam shot a 71 and is five off the lead at 1 under after 36 holes, while Mexico's Lorena Ochoa is 3 over after a 73.
Karrie Webb, winner of last week's Evian Masters, close to the French Alps, fired a disastrous 82 and missed the cut by a long way at 14-over 158.