The final day of the 2015 Solheim Cup at the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Germany was mired in controversy after the drama that occurred on the 17th green. The result of which left many players angry, confused and some in tears.
The Solheim Cup is the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup where the best payers from Europe square off in matchplay against the best from The USA.
UPDATE: Suzann Pettersen apologises
Given the emotion and super-hyped excitement of the Ryder Cup it’s perhaps not unreasonable to think the Solheim Cup will also deliver its fair share of combative spirit – but we hadn’t seen an incident like we saw today.
It went like this:
Europe’s Charley Hull and Suzann Petersen had just won the 16th hole to square their match in their match against USA’s Allison Lee and Brittany Lincicome. Lee then putted for birdie to give the USA a 1up lead on the 17th green but her putt just missed the hole, finishing a foot-and-a-half past the hole.
A putt of that length is normally conceded in matchplay golf and when Europe’s Charley Hull started walking across the green towards the 18th tee, nearly everyone assumed it had been including caddies, rules officials and spectators.
But after Hull had left the green and Lee scooped up her golf ball, Petersen claimed the putt had never been conceded. The rules official had no choice but to award the hole to Europe as Lee had picked up her ball without holing out.
And then, not surprisingly, things got tense.
As Petersen tried to justify her actions, claiming the putt was three feet in length, her partner Charley Hull broke down in tears, as did Lee who had just seen her team lose the hole and ultimately the match.
It meant Europe took a 10 – 6 lead going into the afternoon singles matches.
Laura Davies was disgusted with the incident and said so on SkySports:
“Disgusted. We have got our best player, Charley Hull, who has just won a point and she is in floods of tears. That tells you the wrong thing was done.”, Davies said.
“How Suzann can justify that I will never, ever know. We are all fierce competitors but ultimately it’s unfair,” Davies said on Sky Sports. “We have to play week in, week out together and you do not do something like that to a fellow pro.”
American team captain Julie Inkster was rightfully angered.
“I couldn’t believe it. I saw Suzann walk away. You don’t do that to your peers.” Inkster said. “I expected Carin to do something afterwards but she didn’t.”
Carin, was Carin Koch, Europe’s team captain and while they did consider changing the result of the match, she was unrepentant.
“Our team didn’t concede the putt. She picked it up. It broke the rules.” Koch said. “We considered changing the outcome but we would not have given the putt. They would have made her putt it. So, no.”
There are several arguments floating about this incident but most of them are in sympathy with the American team.
You should never assume a putt has been conceded in matchplay. This is common knowledge for anyone who is experienced in this golf format and unless you’re 100% sure the putt has been conceded, do not pick up your golf ball. But it’s hard to think it was anything but conceded when Lee’s opponents were both walking away from the hole and off the green.
It is unfortunate that the game’s etiquette has not been as it should be during the Solheim Cup and players have been walking away from the green while opponents have still yet to make their putts. And this does play into the debate about the incident.
It appear that the best decision for the event would have been for someone to have overturned the decision
The past few years has delivered some tense moment between these two teams and the rivalry has been getting closer to tipping point and the stoic, perhaps stubborn desire to win spilled over today and unfortunately, the 2015 Solheim Cup will forever be remembered for this incident.
It will be felt in the spirit of the event for many years to come.