Before everyone lines up in pro-Wie or anti-Wie camps, lets take her out of the equation. I suppose the golf gods controlled this one. Final Jeopardy........ A. Michelle Wie, Q. Which LPGA tournament participant is most likely to commit a rules infraction? So, for the sake of argument, let's assume this happened to "unknown player". We'll call her Player W.
After the 2nd round of last weekend's State Farm Classic, Wie left the "roped off" scorecard signing area without having signed her scorecard. She was reportedly "chased down" by volunteers, returned to the scoring area, signed her card, and left the course believing everything was fine. She was allowed to begin 3rd round play the next day, with neither she nor tournament officials aware of any rules breach. Only after completing her round was she informed by L.P.G.A. director of tournament competitions, Sue Witters, that she been disqualified. It's irrelevant that she was in 2nd place, one stroke out of the lead at that point.
First, it's true rules are rules, she should have been disqualified. Second, it's an arcane and frankly stupid rule. Is there anyone there that didn't know exactly what score Wie shot that day? Between the national TV, officials, scoreboards, reporters, and other players, it's conceivable that the only person that didn't know Wie's score was Wie. She's not required to total her score, just attest to it for every hole. Let's look at the rule as it appears in the rule book(s).
- USGA rule 6-6b: After completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee. He must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the score card, sign the score card himself and return it to the Committee as soon as possible.
- LPGA rule 6-6: A player is deemed to have returned her score card to the Committee when she leaves the roped area of the scoring tent or leaves the scoring trailer.
Again, I don't advocate that Wie shouldn't have been disqualified. I do advocate the following.....
1. Have the players finishing their round immediately enter a scoring trailer, or room, sealed from the public, with just their caddies and one tournament official per player in that grouping. Remind them at that time to sign their card.
2. Account for all scores from today before commencing play the next day. (Was Wie's second round score posted on the scoreboard when she began her 3rd round? Just wondering.)
3. Consider a punishment fits the crime policy. Obviously the L.P.G.A. is comfortable with modifications. i.e. Minor violation, like Wie's, one stroke penalty. More severe, two strokes. Most severe, DQ.
She's not the first, nor will she be the last, to have scorecard issues. I think it's time to revisit the rule/policy. What do you think?
*Average Golfer Aside......Stewart Cink's bunker/bunker/rake mishap occurred last March 29th. That stupid rule was expeditiously fixed on April 8th. When sufficiently motivated the golf solons can move quickly.