News & Opinion

Slow play, slower ruling clouds Solheim

Much has been made of the bizarre finish at the Solheim Cup on Sunday

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Much has been made of the bizarre finish at the Solheim Cup on Sunday (“Pettersen drops 2 stunners in Solheim Cup,” Sept. 16). What was not reported and only recently came to light is that American Danielle Kang should have been penalized for slow play in her singles match against Spain’s Carlota Ciganda.

Danielle Kang
Danielle Kang avoids a pace-of-play penalty in Danielle Kangsingles, but she and the Americans lose anyway.

Out in the first match of the final session, Kang was leading Ciganda, 1 up, as Kang faced a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th hole at Gleneagles’ PGA Centenary Course in Scotland. Kang took more than 70 seconds to play her fourth shot, which was more than the allotted 40 seconds, and was given a bad time, her second of the day. Match-play rules call for Kang to lose the hole.

Under the procedures used by the Ladies European Tour at the Solheim Cup, walking referee Kevin Feeney was with the match but not responsible for the timing. Another roving official, Steve Cavanagh, was responsible for timing the group. Cavanagh notified chief referee João Pinto, who then informed both captains of the bad times.

By the time U.S. captain Juli Inkster and European counterpart Catriona Matthew were notified of the slow-play infraction, Ciganda was standing over her birdie putt, which she made to win the hole outright, rendering the penalty to be moot.

“She didn’t get any penalty on Sunday at 16,” Pinto said Tuesday here at Wentworth Club, where he will serve as a rules official for this week’s BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour.

When I pressed Pinto that I had knowledge that Kang had a second bad time in her match, his response was illogical. “I don’t think we can say it exactly that way because we were in the process of timing her, but we couldn’t inform her on the proper time, so Ciganda, she holed the putt and the hole was over.”

But if Ciganda hadn’t made the putt?

“Well, if Ciganda wouldn’t have made the putt, maybe history could have been different,” Pinto said. “But it wasn’t, so that’s the way we want things to stay.”

Pinto could not confirm when Kang received her first bad time, but it likely was near the 12th-14th holes.

Pinto explained that once he received news of the second bad time, the switching of channels on his walkie-talkie to the European and U.S. captains took too long for him then to notify the players before Ciganda’s putt.

“We informed both players on 17 tee what happened,” Pinto said. “And we also said to both players if we had time to inform previously before Carlota’s putt the story could have been different, even though the score is the same.”

Ciganda birdied two of the last three holes to defeat Kang, 1 up, as Europe rallied to win the biennial matches, 14½-13½.

Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA communications chief, said through a spokesman that she had not been made aware of a slow-play issue and referred Morning Read to the LET for comment. The LET had not responded to an email inquiry seeking comment.

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli