South Korea’s Mirim Lee has won her first major golf championship but it’s all been overshadowed by a big blue wall.
Korea’s Mirim Lee won her first-ever major championship by winning the ANA Inspiration at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course in California.
It was a dramatic ending.
Lee chipped in for eagle on the final hole to take the clubhouse lead and was joined in a playoff with Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson.
A birdie for Lee on the first hole of sudden-death saw the Korean win her maiden major golf championship.
But unfortunately, it has been overshadowed by a large wall on the 18th green.
Mirim played some stunning golf to get herself into contention and it concluded with her third chip-in at the par-5 18th hole.
But it was the shot before chip shot that again had everyone talking about the wall.
On multiple occasions, rather than laying up before the water that surrounded the island green, players went for the green in two knowing that the large wall, adorned with the sponsor’s logo would stop the golf ball trickling into the water behind.
Granted, in previous ANA Inspiration events, a grandstand always sits behind the green. But in these COVID times, no fans were allowed to attend the tournament and there was no need for anything to be erected behind the green.
Mirim took a 5-wood and blasted it towards the green knowing full well it that at worst, it would result in a free-drop and a chip shot for eagle.
Mirrim’s caddie admitted as much after the tournament.
“Our play was to hit it into the middle of the green, let it run into the blue thing and get a free drop,” Mirim’s caddie Matt Glczis said.
“Without that being there we probably have to lay up because none of your long clubs are going to hold the green — it’s too firm.”
Rod Morri’s opinion piece for Golf Australia magazine laments the role the backstop played during the tournament and the unfortunate spotlight it has taken away from the tournament itself.
Nobody can say whether the outcome of the tournament would have been different had the course setup team not decided to put the wall in place. But there is no doubt it played a part in the final outcome.
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols who was one of the first to alert everyone to the potential role the wall would play in the tournament:
2019 vs 2020
As you can see, the Great Wall of Dinah is longer and closer to the green than the usual grandstand.
Would’ve been great to see it as the members do. pic.twitter.com/c3YB17CRo1
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) September 10, 2020
Nichols was no less scathing of the wall in her post-tournament opinion piece at Golfweek:
Golf fans can’t blame Lee, but they can blame the LPGA and tournament organizers for constructing a wall that’s even bigger and closer to the green than the usual grandstand when there were plenty of other ways available to give ANA the attention it deserves.
It has led to a few entertaining, slightly awkward responses on social media. This is perhaps our favourite: