Rules controversies don’t only apply to the professional tours. On Friday during the USGA’s U.S. Girl’s Junior, 17-year-old Erica Shepherd was battling Elizabeth Moon in a semifinal match at Boone Valley in Augusta, Missouri.
Down by two with four to play, Shephard rallied to send it into extra holes. What came next you can’t make up. Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner has the details:
On the first playoff hole, the par-5 14th, Moon faced a 4-foot birdie putt for the win. She missed the putt and left herself a 6-inch comebacker for par. Already in with par, Shepherd didn’t concede her opponent’s short putt, and Moon mindlessly pulled her ball back to try again.
“I didn’t say that was good,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd explained afterward that she had closed her eyes while her opponent struck her putt.
“When I hear that the ball doesn’t drop, I finally open my eyes and she’s already, like, dragging the ball back,” said Shepherd, 16. “So I kind of turned away, and then I stood there and looked around.
“And then my coach was like, ‘Did you give that to her?’ I was like, ‘No.’
Updated: Shepherd had her eyes closed while opponent putted and “totally” would have conceded putt if given time: https://t.co/drcp9TkgK5
— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) July 29, 2017
“And so I said, ‘I don’t think I gave that to you.’ Then I said, ‘I totally would have given that to you, no doubt.’”
Shepherd thought that because she intended to concede the putt, the match would be allowed to continue. But that wasn’t the case. Because the concession wasn’t verbalized prior to Moon raking her ball, Moon violated Rule 18-2 (moving a ball in play) and received a one-shot penalty.
That resulted in a loss of hole and, ultimately, the match.
“It doesn’t feel like a win right now, like at all,” Shepherd said. “It’s kind of hard to talk.”
“While we are sympathetic to both players, and no one wants to see a match end in this fashion, the Rules are clear in this particular situation,” said Craig Winter, USGA director of Rules of Golf and Amateur Status.
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