After reporting ‘cheater,’ pro commits costly gaffe of her own
Golf is a game played over hundreds of acres. The ball, when hit well, travels hundreds of yards in the air. As it returns to earth, who knows where it’ll bounce. It all depends. The playing ground is so big. But then, quite often, the slightest nudge, piece of grass, grain of sand, etc. can influence an outcome. The game is massive and tiny all at once. Which makes governing it extremely difficult.
Of course, at times there will be video evidence of known rules infractions, rules decisions — even mistakes — but the baseline of governing golf always falls on the player. The next line of defense, after the player, is often that player’s caddie and any other players in the group. Which brings us to the controversy of the week, the Stage 1 tournament of LPGA and Epson Tour Q-School.
This is the beginning of Q-School season across the pro golf world. That fall corner of the calendar where players who want greater status compete in what amounts to a play-in tournament. In the women’s game, it begins at Stage 1, in August, proceeds to Stage 2 in October, and then finishes with the Q-Series in November. It’s a bit of a gauntlet that decides players’ fates, so long as they’re following the rules of golf.
According to Gabby Lemieux, it was at Stage 1 where she and her caddie noticed a very tiny but still significant rules infraction. A player in her group was marking and replacing her ball on the greens incorrectly. At least that is how this wacky story begins.
“Another player and I called out a CHEATER today for marking and replacing her ball incorrectly,” Lemieux wrote in an Instagram story.
“(If you want to play professional golf, even if it was half an inch off…it is still cheating.”
Though we only have Lemieux’s side to this story at the moment, she’s absolutely correct about that part. Recall Lexi Thompson’s mis-marking during the 2017 ANA Inspiration, where she replaced her ball to the side of its original position by as little as an inch, and received a four-shot penalty in a tournament that she eventually lost in a playoff. The inches might not seem meaningful, but they are. Especially when governing falls on the players.
“While in the scoring area we hashed it out to figure out what we needed to do,” Lemieux’s post continued. Here’s where the story turns.
“In the process of doing so, I signed a wrong scorecard. The lady repeated 75 back to me and I acknowledged that it was right. A score on hole 15 was wrong. I bogeyed [sic] the hole instead of paring. I was sitting in the car when I noticed they had me for a 74. I marched back in there to make sure that the score wasn’t just wrong online. Unfortunately I did sign a wrong scorecard and I am DQ from Stage 1.”
Sheesh. Rules dispute aside, getting bounced from Q-School — no matter how you were playing — for signing an incorrect scorecard is tough. But Lemieux can only blame herself for that part. Counting up the strokes begins and ends with the player, who can always take a second, third, fourth, or eighth pass at the scorecard they’re signing. Q-School moves on with Stage 2 taking place in October. But where does that leave us with the alleged infraction that led Lemieux to post on Instagram in the first place? Lemieux believes her scoring mistake came as a result of trying to protect the field.
“I did my part to save the field from a cheater,” she continued. “Unfortunately I was too consumed with that to realize a score was wrong on my scorecard. I am glad that I noticed it and called myself out. We need more honest people and better professionals to hold themselves to higher standards so we don’t have to worry about this. Protecting the field cost me my own way. Sometimes that is just how it goes.”
Playing with Lemieux during the final round were Abbey Daniel, a professional, and Sara Ericsson, an amateur. Though it is unclear which player Lemieux was referring to within the post, the local rules official was called in to assess the situation on the 8th hole of the final round. After the round, Daniel was assessed a two-stroke penalty for failing to replace her ball in the correct spot on the 7th green, changing her par 4 to a double-bogey 6. It was the only blemish on her scorecard that day, as she carded a one-under 71 to qualify for Stage 2.