A challenging season for Lydia Ko took a disappointing turn during the final round of the Dana Open. Ko was assessed seven penalty strokes after being notified on the 11th hole that she had improperly played preferred lies during the final round. She ended with a seven-over par 78 and finished the tournament in Sylvania, Ohio, at one-over and tied for 65th place.
“For the final round of the 2023 Dana Open, preferred lies were in effect on Nos.1 and 10 only,” an LPGA spokesperson told Golf Digest. “On Lydia Ko’s 11th hole, a rules official was notified that Ko had preferred her lies on Nos.3, 7 and 9. On holes three, seven and nine, she did not replace the ball back on the original spot. Therefore, Ko played from a wrong place on each of those holes, which is in breach Rule 14.7a. Her scorecard was adjusted to reflect those two-stroke penalties. In total, three two-stroke penalties were applied.
“On her 11th hole, Ko’s ball was lifted and she then called for a ruling. The ball was put back on the original spot, therefore only a one-stroke penalty was applied in accordance with Rule 9.4b.”
Ko did not speak with reporters afterwards. Preferred lies were in place on the first and 10th holes due to heavy rains at Highland Meadows Golf Club on Saturday, which caused a weather delay for three hours and 45 minutes during the third round. In addition, Ko played this week without her regular caddie, David Jones, who she’s worked with since the start of the season. A member of her coach Ted Oh’s team was on her bag.
With the penalties added Ko ended up with double-bogeys on the third and seventh holes and a triple-bogey on the ninth to go out in eight-over 42. Despite a penalty stroke on the 11th, the Kiwi closed the back nine with a one-under 36. Ko, 25, played well through the first three rounds, posting 67-68-72 to sit T-24. Her closing 78, the worst round of the day, sent her 41 spots down the leaderboard. She was 22 shots behind first-time LPGA winner Linn Grant.
The No.3 player in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings has not finished in the top 30 on the LPGA Tour since her first start of the year in February at the Honda LPGA Thailand.