Monday, July 21, 2008

Michelle Wie D.Q. - Time For a Closer Look.

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.
She adhered to the letter of the USGA rule. She signed and returned her scorecard "as soon as possible." She violated the LPGA rule, (policy?), but certainly not by intent. I didn't realize the LPGA could trump the USGA and R&A when it came to the rules of the game. I learn something every day. The "roped area" or "scoring tent/trailer" should be changed immediately. Give them a trailer with just the player, their caddie, and tournament officials. No volunteers involved in officiating a professional tournament. No knock on volunteers, it's just they aren't experienced enough to be in the middle of such crucial matters. Furthermore, a "scoring tent" or "roped off area" is, or could be, flooded with photographers, fans, reporters, and who knows else. This creates a sea of confusion, multiplied when a player with Wie's interest level finishes a round.

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?

Til' next,

*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.


  1. Agree on 1. 2 is already done. (1 makes the difference here, not 2.) 3 raises enforcement questions. How do you tell the difference between "less," "more," and "most" severe? I'd rather implement 1 and have a single penalty for failure to follow the rules with that much help.

  2. 2 was more tongue in cheek I suppose. You're right, 1 would solve the problem. 3 came from the severity of the penalty in this case. Relative penalties already exist for other rules though, 1 vs 2 strokes, etc.

  3. In theory, I agree on 3, but in practice intent is one of the most difficult things to prove. Every cheater in the world will claim their "forgetting" that stroke was an "honest mistake." Signing a card that has a lower score on it than you actually shot should always result in a DQ, whatever the intent. And if someone manages to not sign their card with 1 in place, it's inexcusable. The only situation I can imagine is the all-too-common one where a player has blown up and refuses to turn in the card. In that case, DQ is the only conceivable option.

  4. I have no problem with DQ'ing someone who didn't sign a scorecard. I believe there is a bit of arbitrariness about the signing of the card before or after you leave the "scoring area" making a difference, but the rules are the rules and I can accept that. However, what I find unacceptable is the fact the a player can be DQ'ed THE DAY AFTER the violation. If the signing of a scorecard is invalid the moment you leave the scoring tent, surely a penalty is invalid the moment you tee off in the next round. Once the next snap occurs, you can't challenge the last play. (Meanwhile, the tour milked ratings and attention out of Wie in Saturday's round knowing full well that she would be DQ'ed, and that is unconscienable.)

  5. constructivist.....Or the reverse, Roberto DiVicenzo, made a 3, signed for a 4. Rule got him.

    anon......Yup, they milked her 3rd round, or were exceedingly incompetent. Both are horrible for the game.

  6. What is the penalty for the LPGA tournament executives for having volunteers letting Michelle Wei leave the scoring area without signing her card? I believe it is the LPGA's responsibility to ensure that the golfer signs the scorecard before leaving the area. After all, it is their rule and they should make sure the golfer abides by the rule. It cost the young girl lots of money, but more importantly the chance to play in the LPGA next year. And it isn't even a USGA rule. Shame on the LPGA.

  7. To be fair I don't know exactly who represented the LPGA in the scoring "area". It was widely reported that volunteers had chased Wie down to inform her she hadn't signed her card. At that point though she'd left the scoring "area" and her fate was sealed.

  8. It should be up to the person accepting the score card to see that its signed, and if there is a penalty it should be on them. dean

  9. Well, I see your point, but ultimately the player is responsible for their score and that would include the signature. If you had a trailer and a minimal amount of people mulling about it should be foolproof.

  10. Signing the scorecard is not a difficult thing to remember. the player or in this case, the playes parents s/b responsible.

  11. No, you're absolutely right. Signing a scorecard is not rocket surgery.

  12. She is an interesting young lady.