The Most Ludicrous Sports Ruling Ever

This might be delayed news but definitely worth ranting about. This is about Michelle Wie , the 16 year old golf phenom from Hawaii, sensational and highly touted to equal if not surpass Tiger Wood’s skills and exploits. Wie is some kind of wonder woman – 6ft tall, slim but athletic and hits the longest in the LPGA ( Ladies Professional Golf Assn) tour, truly an incredible feat considering her young age. At 13, she won the Hawaii women’s amateur golf tournament. In her amateur status at 14 and 15, she participated in PGA tournaments for men. She didn’t get anywhere as expected but didn’t end up in the basement of any of the events she joined either. A teenage girl outclassing a professional golfer in the men’s tour isn’t supposed to happen. Her talent is awesome and she has no other way to go but become even better.

In October 05 the golf world was excited when Wie announced days before her 16th birthday her decision to turn professional. An A student, everyone expected her to finish high school or at least obtain her driving license before turning pro. Life would be darn difficult without a driver’s licence with the LPGA’s gruelling tour schedule. But Wie is not one of those amateurs struggling to qualify for their tour cards. She is a golf prodigy and upon her announcement to turn pro, Nike and Sony signed her up for endorsement contracts worth $10 Million. In her first professional tournament at the Samsung World Championship in Palm Desert, California, last Oct 13-16, Wie did well, tied for fourth overall in the standings in the last hours of Sunday, the day a regular 4 day tournament normally finishes. Then the unspeakable happened. A Sports Illustrated golf reporter approached and alerted the LPGA officials that Wie might have been guilty of a rule violation in the 7th hole of the Saturday play. The TV replay showed that Wie’s ball landed in an unplayable lie. The rule stipulates that she can drop the ball two club lengths away in a clear lie where she can hit but at the expense of a one stroke penalty. The reporter claimed that when Wie dropped the ball, it crossed the imaginary line set by the club and ended 3 inches closer to the hole ! The rule says that when this happens the ball must be dropped again – it can be farther but never closer to the hole. Wie wasn’t anywhere near the green and being 3 inches closer to the hole did not buy her any advantage whatsoever.

The SI reporter is a PGA ex-caddy and reportedly knew his golf rule crap. The tour officials after reviewing the tapes concurred with the reporter’s observation and announced Wie’s disqualification in the tournament, forfeiting her 4th place purse of $53,000! Unbelievable!

Here’s why I am aghast at this completely ludicrous if not moronic ruling. If a violation happened on a Saturday, why was the player allowed to play on Sunday? Tape reviews are allowed in the major league football and hockey but they are instant playbacks, designed to rectify a play under question. No one in his right mind would ever dare suggest an overnight replay especially in the big leagues. It was not that Wie dropped the ball without any witnesses. Wie in fact consulted with Grace Park of Korea, her playing opponent that Saturday and Park expressed no qualms about it. Obviously there was no express desire to cheat. The other disturbing fact about this is if this happened to a lesser known player who does not get TV coverage, there would be no evidence thus no way to prove the infraction! Moreover, why are spectators such as this overzealous reporter allowed to intervene and report alleged infractions? Isn’t there some kind of a control scheme where only tour officials and players can raise questions on a player’s conduct of play? Michelle Wie had suffered a disgusting setback in her pro debut because of some reporter who had no business in playing umpire. If he was truly concerned, he could have reported the incident the same day when it could have been rectified and not resulted in the 16 year old’s dismal disqualification. Are we seeing sports officials bending over to sports reporters for fear of being rebuked and criticized over the papers? Have you heard of an athlete, in any sport for that matter, disqualified because of a spectator’s unwarranted intervention? This one really, truly sucked.

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6 Responses

  1. anyone making $10 Million before hitting his first professional tee shot needs to know his damn golf rules. I have no sympathy for someone who doesn’t.

  2. hi BW, I am not into sports so I didn’t get a chance to wwatch or read about the game. But from your entry, I guess there’s politics even in the sports arena…especially because something was amiss. How are you?

  3. Hi Teacher Sol.. I’m busy as usual and haven’t blogged for a few days, but otherwise fine and dandy. Hope you are fine too..I’ve been trying to get at least one rant post every week to keep my blog active!

    Yep there’s also politics in sports. This one is a bummer really and it makes people mad when a sport is messed up by media people.

    To anonymous : I don’t think the real issue is knowledge of the rules. There’s 140 players in the field and only one rule official means players are enjoined to be conscientious and honest in their games.

    When someone plays for 4 days – spends money for hotel, food, transportation and caddy fees and doesn’t get any compensation because of some reporter seeking publicity causes her disqualification, there’s something stinky that needs to be fixed. The media should never meddle with the business of officiating.

  4. Hi, BW! Ang puso mo…. 🙂 I’m not a golf player, and I’m not familiar with golf jargon, but I do get your point. I somehow question the motive of that golf reporter. Maybe, just maybe, the tournament organizers are indeed afraid of being “exposed” in the papers. Media people tend to abuse their power sometimes. Gaya sa mga cases na tinatawag na “trial by publicity.”

    Keep on blogging. I seriously think you should be a newspaper opinion writer someday. 🙂 God bless you and your family!

  5. Gee, $53,000 ain’t a small change just to be lose that way. I guess the LPGA or PGA for that matter should learn from this incident by establishing a rule where protest should be done only for some priod after the alleged error or foul play where instant replay can be had like in NFL. It should be, after a passing of time, any protest shouldn’t be heard anymore.

  6. Thanks much Jayred.. yeah, I’m keeping my heart rate under control 🙂

    BTW we also have RP’s Jennifer Rosales, a very promising young talent who has already won twice in the LPGA – last year and this year. JRo’s a refreshing new face in the game, with her unique sartorial style – spandex like shorts with low waist thick belt, colorful shirts and headbands and sporty dark glasses. The media credits her for infusing a new look in the women’s game. It’s like – wait a minute… this Pinay is showing the whole world how to dress with style – now that’s really cool. I’d like to personally watch her on tour one day and maybe shake her hands, get an autograph, a small conversation perhaps. Not that I’m bonkers over her but to win in the LPGA is mighty big and I have the greatest respect for her. She just placed 2nd in the Mizuno tournament in Japan yesterday. She definitely makes the country proud. She’s at http://www.jennyrosales.com

    You bet Major Tom. This one had left a bad taste in the mouth for the game. At the end of the day, after the post mortems and fan backlash I wouldn’t be surprised if the tour officials would wishper to themselves – boy we really screwed this one up didn’t we!

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