Thursday, July 14, 2016

Brittany Lang wins U.S. Women's Open after Nordqvist's playoff penalty

U.S. Women's Open - Final Round

Brittany Lang won the U.S. Women’s Open on Sunday at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., taking the biggest event in women’s golf and her first major championship.

However, it wasn’t that simple.

Lang and Swede Anna Nordqvist were tied at 6-under 282 and went into the second three-hole, aggregate-score playoff in championship history (2011). They each made par on the first hole, the par-3 16th. Both players missed their tee shots on the par-4 17th, with Lang finding the rough and Nordqvist ending up in a fairway bunker on the left side. That’s when it happened.

As Nordqvist was about to swing her 5-iron for her second shot, she barely touched the sand with her club. Under Rule 13-4 of the Rules of Golf, Nordqvist was guilty of grounding her club in a hazard. She would incur a two-stoke penalty.

However, Nordqvist, who thought she made par like Lang did on No. 17, didn’t realize she had committed the infraction. It wasn’t until a Fox Sports cameraman spotted the problem in his shot did the news work its way up the food chain to the USGA. The USGA reviewed the cut-and-dry footage as quickly as they could, but both players were not told until they had each already played two shots into the par-5 18th, the third and final hole of the playoff. The USGA told Nordqvist after she hit her third shot into the hole. Lang got word before her third shot, which, equipped with the knowledge that she was two strokes ahead, prompted her to hit a safety shot away from the hole and the guarding water hazard. On the green, Lang comfortably two-putted for the win.

The Duke alum wasn’t as happy about the finish — and the win — as she might have been under other circumstances. Nordqvist is a good friend, so beating her wasn’t ideal. Certainly, it wasn’t good to learn that the playoff had been ultimately decided by a penalty, much less one Nordqvist didn’t even realize she warranted.

Then, to top it all off, USGA president Diana Murphy referred to Lang as “Brittany” four times before someone in the crowd alerted her to the mistake. Lang didn’t know whether to answer to the mistake or let the mistake linger in the wind.

Lydia Ko, the 54-hole leader, made a mistake on the ninth hole that will linger for a while. After her tee shot on the par 5 found deep rough on the left side of the hole, the world No. 1 tried to clear the water hazard some 110 yards in front her with a hybrid. She was unable to do it, finding the water and making a double-bogey 7 that backed up a disappointing bogey on the par-3 eighth. She never recovered, finishing in a tie for third with Amy Yang and Sung Hyun Park after a closing 75.

However, the moment belongs to Lang, who, at 30 years old, picks up her second LPGA win — one she couldn’t believe and will never forget.


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