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Michelle Wie Disqualified In First Tournament As a Pro

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Move over Tomás de Torquemada, the Inquisition has a new leader in the person of Michael Bamberger, a reporter for Sports Illustrated.

Bamberger, following the completion of the LPGA Samsung World Classic Gold Tournament, told LPGA officials that he believed that Michelle Wie, playing in her first tournament as a professional, may have, after declaring an unplayable lie, taken a unfair drop that was closer to the hole than her original lie.

Required to investigate the accusation, officials first reviewed television video records of the incident. They determined that the video was “inconclusive.”

Accordingly, they proceeded out to the course with Wie and her caddy and had them show exactly where the ball had been dropped. They then paced off the distance to the hole from the original lie and the drop. This too, apparently, was inconclusive.

Finally, they took string and laid it to the hole from both ball positions. by this means they were able to determine that the ball had been dropped 12-15 inches closer to the hole. (Wie later stated that she believed the distance had been 3 inches). This, according to the “rules of golf,” meant that Wie should have added a 2-stroke penalty to her score. Since she signed that round’s scorecard without that penalty included she was automatically disqualified.

Now, the 7th hole on the Palm Desert Bighorn Valley Course is a par 4, 400-yard hole. Assuming that Wie hit a 250 yard 3-wood shot into the bush, she would still have at least a 150 yard approach shot to the hole. This means that Wie dropped her ball leaving approximately 149.66 yards to the hole. This is an advantage worth disqualifying someone for?

So, the LPGA now has an Inquisition and a Grand Inquisitor. It has instant replay review and even taped review of actions taken over 24 hours earlier. It can disqualify a player based on possible mis-remembered ball placements nearly two competitive golf rounds earlier.

Can you imagine this being done in a professional baseball game (Sorry, tape review of last week’s game shows that Bonds was out of the 1st base running path on his bunt single. His hit must now be recorded as an out, the runner at third did not score. The inning is declared to have been over and it is ruled that the Giants did not fairly win the game. The Dodgers are therefore declared to have won the game. Boxscores and league standings shall be changed to reflect this ruling”)?

Professional football (“Sorry, it appears that the coach’s left toe was over the sideline on the third play of the second quarter. This should have led to a five yard penalty and loss of down. The game must be forfeited”)?

Professional tennis (“Sorry, it appears that the line judge and referee were wrong after all. The point should have gone to Lindsay Davenport. Serena Williams is therefore declared disqualified”)?

Professional golf (“Sorry, although video tape review of yesterday’s round was inconclusive, we went out with pieces of string, measured out the distance to the hole and determined that Michelle Wie was somewhere between 5/10,000 and 1.9/1,000’s closer to the hole than she ought to have been. Wie is hereby disqualified”)?

Oops. Sorry about that. They actually do this in professional golf!

You’ve got to be kidding me!

Can any professional golfer ever be sure they are actually going to be declared ineligible or not, even days after they have completed their round or even the tournament?

The LPGA should investigate and revoke this ridiculous, trivial, vindictive and outrageous ruling. It demeans the sport. It demeans the players. It demeans the spectators and the television viewers. It is a crock and a sham.

In addition, Michael Bamberger should be banned from all professional golf tournaments for years to come. He is a disgrace, a boor and an embarrassment to Sports Illustrated.

The only bright note in this debacle is Michelle Wie who, with grace beyond her just-turned 17 years of age, responded to this injustice with humility and restraint. Her public comment after all of this?

“I learned a great lesson,” Wie said, her voice choking with emotion. “From now on, I’ll call a rules official no matter where it is, whether its 3 inches or 100 yards. I respect that.”

The lesson I learned, unfortunately, is this: The spirit of golf is dead. Michael Bamberger and the LPGA killed it this afternoon.

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About Bird of Paradise

  • lancia

    It’s pretty obvious Mr. Bamberger is not very intelligent. No point stressing out about something that happened by an ignorant person. Was it 10 million that she’s getting from Nike? I wonder if Bamberger can make one tenth as much in his life time. He must be very jealous to pull a stunt like that. haha

  • fade

    is pre-meditated murder in life the same as pre-meditate disqualification in a game of golf.

    and, if, it is the same than michael bamberger and sports illustrated should be brought to court and let a jury decide his fate and the fate of the company he was respresenting.

    personally, the guy and sport illustrated is DISGUSTING…REALLY NO BALLS, YEAH!!!


  • I’m not understanding all this anger. Yeah, it’s the only sport where such a play can be disputed by a non-participant.


    That’s how they do it. When you’re LPGA commissioner, you can change in.

  • Ben

    I cannot believe a spectator from the audience can influence the minds of the referee’s or golf officials. No other sport, baseball, football, basketball will allow a photographer, journalist, T.V personality change the outcome of the game with their two cents. Can you believe it, a sports writer changes the outcome of the game by going to game officials and “telling them that she did not drop the ball correctly.” B.S, yes this game is still in the hands of white america and controls the game all the way from spectators to media. Yes media now has a say in the outcome of the golf game? Why not do it for football? Baseball? make sure the person who is making the call from the stands knows the game, has prior pop warner coaching time to validate themselves.

    The beat goes on…

  • RogerMDillion

    I don’t understand why everyone isn’t upset with the LPGA. It’s their rules. While I think it is foolish to allow anyone to comment a day later, it’s on the books.

  • Re No. 9, they must have changed that recently.

  • Ledbetter

    The whole thing stinks.
    -SI is milking the situation and they are trying to spin it in Bamberger’s favor.
    -Bamberger has a book coming out in 2 weeks.
    -Bamberger made more than enough press rounds
    -Bamberger was a caddy and knew the consequences of waiting.
    -Tv inconclusive, pacing inconclusive, string distance “12, 15, 18” And then Smith says, “and that’s a fact.” Okie,
    a fact is 12 OR 15 OR 18.
    -Where was your ball yesterday? Where was the pin yesterday? Can you approximate where the ball was? Yes? Okay from there lets measure out. NOW we have a fact. The distance was 12 or 15 or 18.

    Goodbye SI.

  • egc

    btw, if she signs for a worse (higher) score she is tuck with it but not DQ’d

  • OK, enough is enough. I love the fact that golf is such an honest game and has the highest integrity among it’s competitors of all sports. Perfect example, just this week Kevin Stadler pulled out his wedge on the first hole of the final round of the Las Vegas PGA Tour event and noticed the shaft was bent. This is not good. All competitors must begin their round with “conforming” clubs. If a club becomes “non conforming” during the course of a round-say you hit a tree on your follow through-it’s no problem. You can even cause the damage thru anger, and as long as you don’t use the “nonconforming” club during the rest of the round, all you face is a fine from the PGA Tour for “conduct unbecoming”. But, start the round with one of these non conformers, and we have trouble.

    Now let’s set the stage here. Kevin Stadler is fighting for his PGA Tour life. He’s 167 on the money list desperately trying to crack the top 125. After 3 rounds he is 15 under par, 3 off the lead and sitting in 5th place. Maintain his position thru the final round and he’ll earn $160,000, jumping up to 133 on the money list. Catch lighting in a bottle like little known Austin navtive native Short Jr. and you win the tourney, pocket a cool $720,000, receive a two year PGA Tour exemption and make plans to spend the first week of January in Hawaii for the Tournament of Champions. Needless to say, this was a big day.

    So what does Kevin Stadler do when he notices the bent shaft in his wedge? Does bury it in his bag and hope no one notices? Of course not. He alerts a tour official and is ultimately disqualified. Now thats what I love about this great game.

    On the other hand, this DQ of Michelle Wie has got me steaming. If you haven’t heard, a columnist from Sports Illustrated was following her group on Saturday when she took a drop for an unplayable. I watched it live on tv and saw her go through all the proper mechanics of the drop. Look good to me. Not so for mister sports writer. He said he felt at the time she might be a foot closer to the hole (which had to be over 100 feet away). Now if you truely believe this, SPEAK UP!!! It can be rectified with no penalty before she plays her next shot. But if you don’t have the courage to do so, then leave it alone. Michael Bamberger said he agonized over it for the rest of the day and well into Sunday, when he alerted a tour official. After she completed her final round, finishing 4th in her professional debut, Michelle was asked to go back to the spot of the drop and reenact it. It was determined to be closer to the hole by less than a foot. Mind you, it’s all guess work at this point. How do you really get an accurate reading of what happened a day and a half ago, under the heat of her first event. You can’t and Michelle Wie pays a hefty price because some guy with an over inflated ego thinks he’s protecting the game by getting involved.

    The professional game of golf has got to find a way to deal with this “arm chair official” being involved in the outcome of a championship. It is the responsibility of the playing partners/competitors to protect the integrity of the game by making sure that the rules are followed. Grace Park had no problem with this drop. She’s not only keeping Wie’s scorecard, but also fighting to win the same prize money as her competitor. I say leave it up to the players and officials and leave the rest of us out of it.
    PGA Golf Professional, C.H.


    End your subscription to Sports Illustrated. Let them know why you are doing so. Boycott the products advertised in Sports Illustrated. Let these companies know why you are doing so. Contact Time/Warner INC and tell them of your actions. Convince friends and family members to do the same and to spread the word. Bamberger messed with Michelle’s job, do the same to him.

  • Bear

    Thanks for your post…

    “In addition, Michael Bamberger should be banned from all professional golf tournaments for years to come. He is a disgrace, a boor and an embarrassment to Sports Illustrated.”

    I am so upset at this guy’s behaviour… I canceled my subscriptions to all Time-Warner publications today and I’m a guy.

    I can just imagine what some women would do. If you look up Michael Bamberger’s book, I am sure you will find some inaccuracies… Maybe that would be grounds to have his book dis-qualified and pulled from shelves!!!

    This guy Bamberger probably has BIG personal issues to go after this kid like he did.

    Michelle, a lesson in life that you probably didn’t need right now… There are some real jerks out there… You’ll grow a thicker skin… and will be stronger for it one day.

  • Victor

    While I agree that Wie’s DQ was fundamentally correct, I think there should be a more clear and more stringent statute of limitations on when a complaint can be filed. What if Wie had left by the time the LPGA started looking into this. Nothing would have happened then. Also, a less than neutral spectator, or in this case a journalist, can wait till the scorecard is signed and then reveal his doubts thereby DQ’ing the concerned individual. Another problem is that if every player requests a tour official for every drop and divot fix, each round is going to take 6+ hours, a nightmare for spectators and for TV. It is unfortunate that Michael Bamberger waited over 25 hours after the drop to bring this to the attention of the tour. I don’t think he was intentionally malicious, but at the same time, I don’t think he’s entirely blameless. What should have been a simple two stroke penalty turned into a DQ and a media hoopla. And who benefits? Not Wie or the tour, but the media.

  • What is this Women’s Golf that you speak of?

    Does it involve men playing golf and winning the amour of young women, instead of prize money?

    Please advise

  • You know, the next avenging angel beating his manly way to the Rules Committee in a huff may not have motives so engagingly innocent as Bamberger’s. He says he’s concerned about “integrity” of the game. Fine, given him that. Bamberger is a negligible quantity in the vast bucket of corrupt potential out there. Personally, I think no one without an obvious dog in the fight should be allowed to comment on the course of games. If two caddies, a playing partner, nearby course rangers, marshalls and roving rule committeepersons have nothing to say about a drop into a zone the size of a dinnerplate, then turn a deaf ear, LPGA. Turn a deaf ear. No more Bambergers, please.

  • bhw

    I think Wie just turned 16, not 17.

    Seems like a stupid rule that you can go back to a completed round more than a day later and have someone disqualified.

    I also think the reporter broke some sort of journalistic code by getting involved in the tournament, rather than just covering it.

  • At times, TV viewers called in to point out broken rules that went unnoticed. They were applied.

    I guess it’s because stroke penalties can be applied at anytime without affecting the outcome of the next shot. You can’t do that with football penalties.

    I too am accustomed to the “it may have not been called, but the call is what’s important” style of sports, but the thing about sports is that every one has its own methodology, which is what makes each unique and appealing in their own way.

    The other crazy one: Wie could have been DQ’ed if she signed a scorecard that was worse than what she actually shot.