U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Nordqvist Suffers Unfortunate Ending in Playoff
July 10, 2016 | San Martin, Calif.
By Tom Mackin
A third time in the same fairway bunker on the 17th hole this week was not the charm for Anna Nordqvist during a three-hole aggregate playoff Sunday in the 71st U.S. Women’s Open. A video review revealed that the Swede, playing against Brittany Lang after the two finished 72 holes tied at 6-under-par 282, touched the sand slightly with her club before striking the ball on the second playoff hole. The resulting two-stroke penalty, under Rule 13-4b, provided Lang with a lead she was informed about on the 18th fairway, just before she hit her third shot.
“It wasn't my intention to ground the club,” said Nordqvist, who also played from that bunker during the second and third rounds. “It's blowing 35 to 40 [kilometers] per hour out there, and I had a 5-iron off a downhill lie. It's been a long day, a long week. So I probably misjudged it a little bit and touched a little bit of sand. That’s a penalty.”
Nordqvist, who used the bunker’s right edge as an aiming point for her tee shot during every round, had no issues playing out of it previously, according to her caddie, Kyle Morrison. “One time she ended up just short of the green and the other time she missed the green to the left,” he said. “We had 164 yards to the hole today and were between a 5-iron and 6-iron. The penalty was a shock. We didn’t expect anything like that. The timing was unfortunate.”
Lang and Nordqvist, who were tied after both parred the 17th hole, were informed of the penalty – and Lang’s two-stroke lead – while playing the 18th hole.
“The USGA official came up to me after I hit my (third) shot and said we've been reviewing the shot, you grounded your club in the bunker on 17 and that's a two-shot penalty,” said Nordqvist. “There was nothing I could do. It seemed kind of unreal that it happened, but there wasn't any reason to question it. I wish the USGA would have told me [about the infraction] a little bit earlier. I don't know if it would have changed the outcome, but it certainly would have changed my aggressiveness into the 18th pin.”
The penalty marred an otherwise superb week for the 29-year-old, who started the final round six strokes behind leader Lydia Ko before shooting a 67 that included an eagle 3 on the 15th hole. “I was hitting my irons beautiful all day and hit tons of fairways,” she said. “I made a couple of good putts coming in and was bogey-free. That's all you can ask for on a Sunday of a U.S. [Women’s] Open. I'm proud of myself this week.”
Nordqvist, whose previous best finish in the championship was a tie for 11th in 2013, was both gracious and sanguine in defeat.
“Brittany has been playing good all week, and she ended up winning, so congratulations to her,” she said. “Hey, I still finished second in the U.S. [Women’s] Open, I don't think anyone should feel sorry for me. It's just golf. I'll move on. I'm still going to wake up tomorrow.”
Arizona resident Tom Mackin is a frequent contributor to USGA websites. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org