Fighting to make the cut in her first LPGA appearance in over a decade, a peculiar ruling at the Gainbridge LPGA event in Lake Nona, Florida, could keep the 10-time major champ from competing this weekend.
During Thursday’s opening round, Sorenstam’s tee shot sailed left on the par-4 fifth hole and came to rest underneath the gate of a fence surrounding the backyard of a nearby house. Dan Maselli, the LPGA rules official on the scene, said her ball stayed in bounds “by a dimple.”
Sorenstam had hoped that she could swing open the gate and hit the shot, but Maselli told her that wasn’t an option.
“She elected to rule her ball unplayable,” Maselli explained to reporters soon after the 50-year-old Sorenstam hit her third shot, “so she got two clubs lengths from where the ball was. There’s a stipulation in the rules that if a gate is open, you have the option to close it. But you don’t have the option to open it if it’s closed.”
Sorenstam took relief (and the penalty stroke) and proceeded to make a triple-bogey seven. She finished the first round at 3-over 75, one shot outside of the cut line heading into Friday.
“I was hoping that you could swing up that gate,” Sorenstam said after the round, “but that didn’t work.”
Actually, golf’s modernized rules, which became effective January 1, 2019, included a gate change. According to the USGA’s interpretations of Boundary Object/2, a gate that’s used to get through a boundary wall or fence is not part of the boundary object. It’s now considered an obstruction, which means players are able to get free relief (i.e. move the gate).
Sorenstam, a 72-time winner on the LPGA, is 2 under on the day through 16 holes.
Golfweek reached out to the LPGA for a statement and was told that one would be made after the round.