I've written about Michelle Wie here previously, mostly to talk about her no-longer-deserved phenom status, or her latest pathetic performance on the golf course. This time, the tone is different, and I can't help but feel bad for her and wonder if the golf gods hate her.
Michelle has stepped back to a part-time schedule now that she is a student at Stanford, and was off to a better than usual year with two top-25's and a top-10 in her first four events of 2008. This weekend, Wie was making her first appearance at the Statefarm Classic in Springfield, Illinois.
Wie came out strong and posted scores of 67 and 65 to find herself 12 under par, putting her in the top ten after the cut and headed into the weekend. She shot another 67 in the third round to reach 17 under par and was destined to spend the final day of the tournament playing in the final pairing with a serious shot at taking home her first title.
Then something strange happened. The committee in charge of the event came to her and informed her that at the completion of her second round the previous day, she had failed to sign her score card, and had thusly broken a rule and disqualified herself.
Boy there are a lot of strange details here. First of all, about what happened. She didn't literally fail to sign her scorecard. What happened is that Wie left the scorer's tent without having signed her score card, two of the scorers went after her and told her, and she came back to sign it. Unfortunately, because she had walked beyond the roped-off, "official" area before she returned, it was too late, and she had to be disqualified.
The second oddity here is how it was handled. The committee somehow did not figure out the violation and the need to disqualify her until she had already begun her third round play, and therefore didn't let her know until after she had completed the round.
Usually I like golf, but this really is rather absurd. She didn't get penalized for not signing her scorecard, for walking away and forgetting about it, but rather for walking too far before she realized it and returned. I personally think this is a ridiculous rule. I mean, if she just takes off, sure, but she found out she had made a mistake, came back to fix it, and did so before she played any more golf – heck, before she even left the general vicinity of the scorer's tent. I see no reason why that shouldn't be a forgivable error.
Then, to add insult to injury, they let her spend a whole day out on the course thinking that nothing is wrong, let her play her third consecutive great round and get into serious contention, and then tell her, "Oh, by the way, your score today doesn't count. Or the one from yesterday. Yeah." If that were me, I think I would definitely be tossing some f-bombs and "Why'd you wait to tell me"s.
This seems like one of those letter-vs-intent of the law situations. Sure, the rule is the rule, but if the infraction was so specific that it took you until the following afternoon to catch it, was it absolutely necessary to enforce it? Then you add insult to injury by waiting until the player posts another good score and gets into the final pairing to break the bad news? The only word I can think to describe it is 'unnecessary.'
So instead of spending her Sunday afternoon competing side-by-side against Yani Tseng for what might be her first ever LPGA title, she's forced to sit at home and watch the final round, all because of another one of golf's goofy rules.