Brittany Lang Hoists The Trophy at Cordevalle
San Martin, California – It was another drama filled USGA Championship. This edition was the Women’s U.S Open at Cordevalle in Cental California. American Brittany Lang was holding the lead down the stretch as she stood over her long putt at the 17th hole (holding a one shot lead over Anna Nordquist who was already in the clubhouse), when Brad Faxon blurted out on the Fox telecast, “Julie, She hasn’t had a three putt all week” (referring to colleague Julie Inkster). Wham! Hex delivered – tie ballgame . . .
After a routine par on the 72nd hole, both Lang (71) and Nordquist (67) finished regulation at 6 under par and headed to an aggregate 3 hole playoff. Both players safely hit the green and two putted for par on the first playoff hole – the short 120 yd par-3 16th. Then it was back to the brutal par 4 17th. Lang striped her tee shot down the middle, and Nordquist’s ball ran through the shortgrass into the fairway bunker. After subpar iron shots by both players (Nordquist over the green and Lang way left after hitting her worst shot of the tournament), each made superb recoveries to save par. Then it got interesting. The cameraman shooting Nordquist in the fairway bunker noticed a small granule of sand that her club appeared to touch just before taking her backswing (which of course is a two stroke penalty for grounding your club in a hazard). Play continued without either player being aware of the infraction – until they were notified in the 18th fairway on the last hole of the 3 hole aggregate.
Immediately, Lang realizing she had a two shot lead – went into protection mode and hit her approach safely to the fat part of the green and two putted for victory. As viewers, once we knew of the infraction, the result was known and the excitement of the finish turned to disbelief and disappointment for what had been a great week for the sport and ladies golf. Although the rule was technically broken, and the two stroke penalty correctly dealt, it once again left the USGA with a championship plagued with some controversy. Should intent be judged for incidents where it’s clear that the player wasn’t obviously attempting to gain an advantage? Tough call.
If that wasn’t bad enough, at the trophy ceremony USGA President Diana Murphy called the new U.S Open Champion Brittany Lang “Bethany” twice. As the crowd tried to correct Murphy she shrugged it off and said “That’s O.K” (without any apology for botching the name). The USGA has some serious work to do to rebuild some credibility, and it won’t happen overnight.
36 hole leader Sung Hyun Park struggled on the weekend finishing tied for 3rd at -4. World No.1 Lydia Ko shot 75 on Sunday to also finish at 4 under par.