In her US Women’s Open debut, LPGA Tour rookie Natthakritta Vongtaveelap was disqualified after five holes during Thursday’s first round when her caddie, Jinsup Kim, was seen using a rangefinder multiple times.
The USGA confirmed that had Vongtaveelap’s caddie breached the model local rule in place for the championship that prohibits the use of distance measuring devices. Had he done it only once, the tour pro would have been subject to just a two-shot penalty. But after a second breach of the rule, the result was a DQ. Vongtaveelap was even par at the time.
The reason for the possible confusion on the caddie’s part might have been the fact that players are allowed to use distance measuring devices during LPGA Tour events. Additionally, players could use them in the first two women’s majors of the year, the Chevron Championship and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.(Starting in 2021, the KPMG Women’s PGA, partnering with Voice Caddie, gave each player a rangefinder with a special competition mode to only measure distance.)
The only two majors that prohibit their use are the US Women’s Open and the AIG Women’s Open.
Vongtaveelap, 20, started her rookie season contending in her first two starts, posting a runner-up at the Honda LPGA Thailand and a T-6 at the LOTTE Championship. Since the electric start, the Thai has made one cut in five starts, including not playing the weekend at the two majors this year. She was at even par at Pebble before getting disqualified.
Interestingly, a similar ruling played out last week on the Korn Ferry Tour. Zach Williams, a recent college grad from Southern Indiana, Monday qualified for the Memorial Health Championship, where rangefinders were allowed. But when he used it on the first two holes in the first two rounds, he was DQ’d as their use is prohibited during KFT events.