Michelle Wie talked yesterday about the distance her ball might have been moved closer to the pin after it was announced she had been disqualified from the LPGA Samsung Championship because of a Rules of Golf violation, at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif.
LPGA disqualifies Michelle Wie for a bad drop
PALM DESERT, Calif. » Michelle Wie got an expensive golf lesson yesterday. It cost her $53,126 in winnings and a lot of embarrassment.
Wie was disqualified from the LPGA Samsung World Championship -- the 16-year-old's first tournament since turning pro a week prior -- for signing an incorrect scorecard, the result of an improper drop during Saturday's third round.
Wie shot an 8-under-par 280 in the four-day tournament and would have finished in fourth place in the 20-woman field of elite LPGA players.
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam ran away in the last two rounds, finishing at 18-under 270, eight strokes ahead of second-place Paula Creamer.
Wie spoke at a news conference nearly two hours after the end of yesterday's round, which was suspended three times for a total of three hours and 20 minutes because of bad weather.
She was visibly emotional and unhappy about the outcome but was also philosophical.
"I'm really sad that this happened, but you know, the rules are the rules. Three inches or 100 yards is the same thing. I respect that," she said.
Robert Smith, LPGA tournament official and manager of rules, announced two hours after the end of the tournament that Wie was disqualified for being in violation of Rule 6 of the Rules of Golf, which covers signing for a score lower than what a player actually shoots.
Wie's scorecard on Saturday should have reflected a two-stroke penalty for dropping a ball closer to the hole than where it originally lay while seeking relief from an unplayable lie, Smith said.
Michelle Wie, middle, exited the media center in a cart along with her father B.J. Wie, right, yesterday following her disqualification from the Samsung World Championship at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif.
"Unfortunately, this ball ... ended up being played about 12 to 15, 18 inches closer to the hole than where the ball originally lay," Smith said.
Wie said she did not know at the time that she had dropped the ball closer to the hole. She also said it was only three inches closer.
"I respect the rules," Wie said. "I was three inches ahead. I mean, it looked fine to me. I learned a great lesson today. From now on, I'm going to call a rule official, no matter what it is."
Wie hit a 5-wood into a gold lantana bush on her second shot on the par-5 No. 7 hole. She told playing partner Grace Park she was taking an unplayable lie, took a drop away from the bush for a one-stroke penalty, chipped to 15 feet, then two-putted for par.
"I was sitting on the golf course (yesterday), and a spectator came to me and told me of an incident which occurred (Saturday) on the seventh hole," Smith said, in explaining how the legality of the drop became an issue. The spectator was Sports Illustrated senior writer Michael Bamberger.
During Wie's post-round news conference Saturday, Bamberger asked Wie how she was sure that she did not drop the ball closer to the hole.
"The triangle thing to make sure that you are not closer," Wie answered. "It looks not closer. You make sure you're farther away. It was not like on the borderline."
When Bamberger followed up with a question asking for a more precise answer, Wie answered, "Try to make an equilateral triangle. It sounds like I'm teaching geometry here."
Bamberger said Wie's remark did not play into his decision to mention his concern with the drop's legality to officials.
"It just suggested that she'd been a little hasty about it," Bamberger said.
He said pointing out the infraction had to do with golf ethics.
"I'm a golfer. I think a golfer would understand," Bamberger said. "She wouldn't want to take a check knowing she hadn't played by the rules."
He also said his position as a reporter covering the event did not mean he should avoid altering its outcome.
"Not really," Bamberger said. "As a reporter, if you see a wrongdoing ..."
Michelle Wie teed off on the fifth hole in the final round of the LPGA Samsung Championship at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert yesterday.
Smith said it would have been better if the mistake was pointed out Saturday, during the same round.
"If a spectator sees something like that, they need to tell us because if they can tell us right away, if she could have played that and we could have caught her in the tent at 18, it would have been a two-stroke penalty. Play golf today," Smith said. "But once that scorecard is signed, it's history. That's the unfortunate part of it."
Bamberger said he did not have time to discuss the situation with officials Saturday, and it would have been impractical.
"Mostly I was working (Saturday)," Bamberger said. "There was no way the rules committee was going to bring her there before she finished the round anyhow."
After she completed the tournament yesterday, Wie was taken to hole No. 7, along with her caddie, Greg Johnston. Officials asked her where the ball originally was and where she played it from and then used a string to determine that the drop was closer to the hole.
"It was all guesswork where the ball was, where the ball was yesterday, where the ball was originally in the bushes," Wie said. "So it was basically all guesswork. I mean, it was only three inches."
Jim Haley, another LPGA tournament official, said he and Smith made sure the evidence, which included videotape, was conclusive.
Wie said it was an honest mistake she will learn from.
"I don't feel like I cheated or anything. I felt like I was honest out there. ... But I learned my lesson. I'm going to call a rule official every single time," she said.