Kerr still steamed about ruling
After having a day to think about a ruling that went against her during the conclusion of Thursday's opening round of the Fields Open in Hawaii, Cristie Kerr conceded that she grounded her club behind the ball, but still believes the wind caused it to move.
She was assessed a one-shot penalty for addressing the ball and then another one-shot penalty for playing the ball from where it rolled and stopped, instead of returning it to its original spot on the slick 12th green.
"I was very upset," Kerr said. "I was on the side of the slope on 12, and it was extremely windy and gusty, and I tried to mark it, it kept moving, mark it, kept moving and I didn't want to ground my club. He (LPGA Tour vice president of rules and officials Doug Brecht) asked me after the round what happened. And I said, this is what happened and I didn't feel like I'd grounded my club.
"Then they brought me into the trailer, and, I know what I felt, and it appeared as if I grounded my club. But, it was not, in my opinion, that my grounding of the club moved the ball. I thought the wind moved the ball. There's a provision in the rule, that says if there's strong evidence to suggest that wind moved the ball -- and which, in this case, I believe it did -- there's no penalty. I didn't think I grounded my club and then they brought me in there, showed it to me and it looked like I did.
"And that's kind of what happened. Sometimes you get penalized if it's an extremely marginal call. You know, it could have gone either way. And I still maintain that I don't feel like I grounded my club, and even if I did ground my club, I don't feel like that's the cause of the ball moving."
When Kerr completed her round, her score was a 3-under 69. On her three closing holes, she had worked extremely hard to produce three par saves. She thought the reason she was being questioned was because playing partner Christina Kim had hit a shot off a tree that ricocheted and hit her ankle, resulting in a two-shot penalty.
But she quickly discovered that wasn't the case.
"They basically told me that once you ground your club you take responsibility for the ball moving, but it's kind of a very vague rule and I had asked them if they had taken it into consideration," Kerr said. "And they're like, 'There really isn't any evidence that the wind moved the ball because there weren't any other reports of the wind moving the ball.
"But I was on the slope. I mean, I don't even know how it stayed on the slope. I had to mark it five times. My playing competitors (Kim and Se Ri Pak), I asked them, before I ended up playing on, either way, I don't feel like I grounded my club and they said, no, I don't think you did. And that they both agreed, basically, that the wind moved the ball.
"So, I got penalized on a very marginal call and I was very upset because I don't think things were handled quite the way they could have been. I felt like I was bullied, a little bit. The rules official's job should be to help me to understand what the rules infraction was and figure out whether anything was wrong or not. He basically came up to me and gave me a split second to say what had happened. So I was shocked that anything had happened."
Kerr was also upset that her integrity might be called into question. She also said the officials weren't willing to hear all sides of the story.
"I was very upset because I'm a very honest person," Kerr said. "If I messed up, even if I didn't think so at the time, by showing it on the camera, that's fine, but knowing the rules as I do, I even called them later on. I had another get-together with the rules officials to discuss it. I said why don't you call Christina and call Se Ri and ask them was there strong evidence that the wind moved the ball.
"And they said, 'No, we didn't want to call them. We just talked among ourselves, decided there wasn't any evidence that the wind moved the ball,' and I think that's being close minded. I've been penalized before and they've given me shots back. Then I got really upset and started crying because the rules official, basically, was very short with me, I felt like I was being bullied and he was very abrasive."