U.S. women’s team DQ’ed from amateur event, captain calls penalty ‘overly harsh’

November 8, 2019
Captain Stacy Lewis, far left, is leading four U.S. players at the Spirit International.

TRINITY, Texas – Less than a week after a rules gaffe rocked LPGA Q-School, a scoring blunder has led to a stunning disqualification in one of the game’s most prestigious amateur team events.

After the opening round of the Spirit International Amateur at Whispering Pines Golf Club on Thursday, U.S. captain and LPGA star Stacy Lewis discovered an innocent, yet costly, error on the signed scorecard of her women’s team, comprised of Wake Forest star Emila Migliaccio and Kaitlyn Papp, a standout at the University of Texas.

Migliaccio and Papp’s total four-ball score for the round was correct, but the card also showed that Migliaccio had made a 2 at the par-3 3rd when, in fact, it was Papp who had birdied the hole.

When Lewis reported the error to tournament officials, her team was disqualified under Rule 23.2b, which states that “each score on the scorecard must be clearly identified as the score of the individual partner who made it; if this is not done, the side is disqualified.”

“Some rules in golf are harsher than others,” Lewis said after the round, reflecting on the cruel turn of events. “This is overly harsh.

“It’s tough because we have to be role models in golf. We messed up and DQ is the result. It’s a harsh penalty for a small mistake which probably does not fit the crime. There were a few tears for sure.”

Migliaccio and Papp got off to a slow start Thursday but rallied on the front nine (their back nine) before arriving at the 3rd hole. That’s where the Scottish team with whom the Americans were playing unintentionally botched their opponents’ scorecard.

No one noticed the goof until Lewis was counting up her players’ birdies after the round.

“I noticed Kaitlyn was not credited for one of her birdies,” Lewis said. “I checked the scorecard and saw the mistake, then called the rules official to point it out. It’s pretty black and white in the Rules of Golf, but I can promise none of those girls will ever have a scoring mistake again.”

A meeting between the captain and tournament officials ensued and Lewis’ first question was if Rule 23.2b had been modified in the recent rules changes.

“I know some of the rules have been changed from a DQ to a two-shot penalty,” Lewis said. “I am kind of surprised this wasn’t one of the rules changes.”

After getting the final ruling, Lewis had to break the news to her two female players — Lewis is also captaining a two-player U.S. men’s team — that they had been eliminated from the bi-annual tournament that pits teams from 20 countries.

“That’s easily the worst thing I’ve had to do this week,” she said.

Thursday marked the third time a team has been DQ’ed from the Spirit, but the first time for a U.S. side.

The U.S. men’s team of U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree and World No. 2 amateur Cole Hammer can still compete for the men’s title but not for the combined team championship.

With some encouragement from Lewis, Papp and Migliaccio plan to continue in the three-day event as non-competing players.

“I never had a scoring issue when I was playing,” said Lewis, who has won 12 times on the LPGA tour. “One time my caddy was accused of testing the sand, but that was only a two-shot penalty and I went on to win the tournament the next day. This is just very harsh, but that’s golf.”

For scoring from the Spirit, click here.