The fifth hole on Thursday was the only real hiccup during Annika Sorenstam’s first LPGA Tour round event since retiring in 2008. She made triple-bogey there, en route to shooting a three-over 75 at her home course, Lake Nona, in the first round of the Gainbridge LPGA. But on Friday, news first reported by Golfweek came out that a ruling at No.5 might have been incorrect, and the error could prove to be pivotal as Sorenstam sits on the cut line with players still on the course on Friday.
On Thursday, the Hall of Famer hit her drive on the fifth hole left and it came to rest near a fence. Rule official Dan Maselli determined the ball was in bounds. Sorenstam wasn’t able to hit it, however, because the fence was in the way. There was a gate there that if she opened it, she’d be able to hit the ball. But the rules official said she couldn’t open the gate. (The gate itself is not the out of bounds line; fence posts on either side of the gate were used to determine whether the ball was in bounds or not.) Sorenstam took an unplayable (which is a one-shot penalty), played out the hole and made triple.
On Friday, however, an error with that ruling came to light. It turns out, Sorenstam could’ve actually opened that gate to hit her ball, which would’ve saved her from having to take the drop and penalty stroke.
The LPGA Tour released the following statement explaining the situation:
“Regarding the Ruling given to Annika Sorenstam on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2021 Gainbridge LPGA, the official on scene linked the word “integral” to the gate, meaning that it could not be moved. This was an error under the definition of an Immovable Obstruction in the Rules of Golf. The gate is considered moveable if proven to be unlocked (Rule 16), and therefore could have been moved to allow the player to hit the shot. The option to rescind the penalty is not available under the Rules of Golf. The official met the player immediately following her second round to explain the mistake and apologise.”
Recounting that apology, Sorenstam said that she told Maselli not to feel bad about it.
“He said, I won’t make that mistake again. I said, Well, I won’t hit there anymore,” Sorenstam said. “You know, those things happen. The rules have changed. That’s the way it goes.”
Sorenstam shot a one-under 71 in the second round, which included three birdies on the front 9 (her second nine). That puts her at two-over for the tournament. With an afternoon of play still on course, the cut line is at two-over.
“I did what I could,” Sorenstam said. “The goal was to shoot under par and I did, and so that’s all I can do. Whatever happens, happens from here. It’s been great. Two wonderful days.”