It wouldn’t be a Solheim Cup without some sort of controversy and this time it benefitted the Americans.
Americans Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing grabbed a 1-up victory in the Friday afternoon fourball match against the European pairing of Madalene Sagstrom and Nanna Madsen.
Faced with the possibility of being four points down at the end of the first day of the 2021 Solheim Cup it was a hugely important point, however, the win was somewhat marred after a rules controversy on the par-5 13th hole.
Korda’s eagle putt finished near the edge of the hole and in an act of sportswomanship and to speed up play, Europe’s Madelene Sagström conceded the tiny tap-in, picked up the ball and threw it back to Korda.
Rules officials noted that the ball hadn’t been given the allotted 10 seconds allowed for it to potentially drop in the hole before Sagström had picked up the ball.
According to Rule 13.3b: “If the opponent in match play deliberately lifts or moves the player’s ball overhanging the hole before the waiting time has ended, the player’s ball is treated as holed with the previous stroke.”
The match referee was forced to award the hole to the Americans who took a 1-up lead; the margin on which the match was eventually decided.
“It was definitely awkward, you don’t want to win a hole like that,” said Korda. “We didn’t want it to happen this way. It was very unfortunate.”
For some context, officials had earlier asked golfers in this match to speed up their play, hence Sagström’s common intervention in matchplay golf.
But some wondered if the American pairing should have conceded the next hole to even things up. something well within their rights to do.
But was the golf ball ever really close to falling in the hole?
Korda didn’t appear to think so and neither did former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn:
Do rules officials in golf realise how unbelievably stupid they make our game look.
— Thomas Bjørn (@thomasbjorngolf) September 4, 2021