After 7 penalty-stroke rules mishap, world No. 3 explains blunder

Lydia Ko

Lydia Ko hits a shot last Saturday at the Dana Open.

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Lydia Ko said it was not one of her smartest moments. She then offered an explanation. 

And a joke. 

To start, the world’s No. 3-ranked player had been playing fairly last Sunday during the Dana Open’s final round. Through 10 holes, she was one-over. On 11, she found the fairway off the tee. 

She picked up her ball. You know where this is going. Maybe. This could be hard to follow.  

Picking up a ball is a no-no, of course. Most of the time. After storms, tournament officials allowed players to lift, clean and place from the fairway on Saturday during the third round, and they OK’d it again on Sunday — for holes 1 and 10. But Ko followed the Saturday provision — and picked up her ball from the fairway on holes 3, 7, 9 and, as noted above, 11. At this point, she called a rules official. 

Ko was hit with a whopping seven strokes, with her pars on 3, 7 and 9 becoming double bogeys, and a potential birdie on 11 winding up a par. Here was the LPGA’s explanation, which was given to GOLF’s Jack Hirsh

“For the final round of the 2023 Dana Open, preferred lies were in effect on Nos. 1 and 10 only. On Lydia Ko’s 11th hole, a rules official was notified that Ko had preferred her lies on Nos. 3, 7 and 9. On holes 3, 7 and 9, she did not replace the ball back on the original spot. Therefore, Ko played from a wrong place on each of these holes, which is in breach of Rule 14.7a. Her scorecard was adjusted to reflect those two-stroke penalties. In total, three two-stroke penalties were applied. 

“On her 11th hole, Ko’s ball was lifted and she then called for a ruling. The ball was put back on the original spot, therefore only a one-stroke penalty was applied in accordance with Rule 9.4b.”

Then Ko explained. 

The mishaps were curious. On Sunday, she posted a short note on Instagram, writing: “Note to self, read the preferred lies memo CAREFULLY next time realizing on the 11th hole that I had played the ball ‘up’ on holes that wasn’t meant to be, so giving myself an accumulated 7 stroke penalty was not the way I had envisioned the week to end. It’s frustrating, but you live and learn.”

After a rules misunderstanding, World No. 3 golfer is hit with 7 penalty strokes
By: Jack Hirsh

Late Wednesday afternoon, on her Instagram story, she explained things more. 

And joked. 

The complete note:

“Hi everyone! 

“What happened last Sunday was definitely not one of my smartest moments. But I completely own my mistake, and while it is frustrating, the 7 stroke penalty I received was justified as I incorrectly played preferred lies on holes I was not meant to. 

“Also, for all those criticizing my team, my usual caddie Dave was not on the bag for me last week (so it was not his fault!), instead someone else on my team (that doesn’t usually caddie on tour) filled in for me last minute. So this incident is not something he should be blamed or criticized for. Ultimately it was my responsibility to check the memos carefully and thoroughly. 

“On the bright side, if I had hit more fairways, I might have broken the world record in stroke penalties received over 11 holes. [Laughing emoji.] 

“Unfortunate to have learned the hard way, but it happened and now all I can do is move on! 

“Now onwards and upwards. [Peace sign.]”

This week, the LPGA is playing the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, but Ko is taking the week off. Next week is the Evian Championship, the fourth major of the year in women’s golf. 

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