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Wie DQ

Posted on Tuesday 18 October 2005

If you follow golf you know that Michelle Wie was disqualified for having signed an incorrect scorecard at the LPGA tournament over the weekend. The details of what happened are readily available (see here, here and here). The short version is that a Sports Illustrated writer, Michael Bamberger, was following Wie and her fellow competitor, Grace Park, during the 3rd round on Saturday. Bamberger, a former caddie on two professional tours, watched as Wie took relief from an unplayable lie on the 7th hole. He later told Brian Hewitt of the Golf Channel:

“It didn’t look like a good drop,” he said.

It looked, he said, like Wie had inadvertently dropped her golf ball closer to the hole while seeking relief from an unplayable lie on the seventh hole. He waited until Wie and her playing partner, Grace Park, comprising the final pairing of the day, cleared the area. Then he paced it off. It still looked like the drop had been improper.

But instead of saying something to a tour official, or to Wie or her caddy, before Wie signed her card after the round Bamberger waited. He told Hewitt that he asked Wie about it during a press conference later and remained convinced that Wie had proceeded improperly, yet he still said nothing. He claims he agonized over potentially becoming part of the story; he even called his SI editor and asked what to do. The editor told him to go to tour officials, which Bamberger did on Sunday morning.

I’d have to give Bamberger two grades in the Michelle Wie incident. He gets an A for observing and realizing, correctly, that her drop on the 7th hole had been improper. He was absolutely correct about the fact of the drop: Wie was wrong, and her veteran caddie should have made sure she’d done things correctly. In fact, while we’re giving grades, let’s give Wie’s caddy an F for his failure. But I’m not done with Bamberger yet. He also gets an F for waiting so long to call the incident to anyone’s attention and thus becoming the very thing he sought to avoid: part of the story.

If he’d reported it as soon as he could have – during the round – then Wie likely would have gotten off with nothing other than a 2 stroke penalty and an admonishment to pay closer attention to certain procedures; frankly, that would have been the outcome if anyone else had noticed the infraction and reported it. But by waiting until after she’d signed her card he did himself, Michelle Wie, and the game of golf a disservice.

He’s very likely taking a fair amount of heat for this incident, much of it deserved. But having read a few of his books, I’d also bet he wishes he could go back and handle it differently. But that’s the thing about golf: you can’t find a definition of ‘Mulligan‘ in the Rules.

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