Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jutanugarn's Unplayable Lie

           On the 72nd hole of the Honda LPGA Thailand, Ariya Jutanugarn found her ball lying precariously near (possibly in) the lip of the greenside bunker after her 2nd stroke on the par-5 18th.  She needed a bogey to win outright over Inbee Park who was already in at 12-under par.  She was forced to declare her ball unplayable and take a drop in the bunker.  The situation left some wondering why she had to drop in the bunker.
            First, many questioned whether the ball was in the bunker or not.  It appeared to be mostly touching the grass-covered lip.  It was clear, however, that her ball was touching sand which was part of the bunker.  According to the definition of bunker, a ball is in the bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker.  Her ball being in the bunker meant two things: 1) whether or not the ball was embedded was irrelevant.  She would not be entitled to relief for a ball embedded in a bunker.  2) if she decided to take an unplayable, she would be required to drop the ball in the bunker unless she proceeded under stroke and distance.
            Proceeding under stroke and distance would have required her to return back to her previous spot where she attempted to reach the green in two.  That significant disadvantage led her to use one of her other two options under Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable).  Under Rule 28, her remaining two options, under penalty of one stroke, were to a) drop the ball within two club-lengths of where it originally lay or, b) drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay keeping that point between where the ball is dropped and the flagstick.  She chose to drop the ball on the “flagline” as it is sometimes called, and luckily dropped the ball on a slope in the bunker so that the ball rolled a little and did not plug.
            Unfortunately, she did not play well from there.  She blasted her bunker shot (her 4th stroke) long of the green.  She got too cute with her 5th stroke and left it in the fringe short of the down slope toward the hole.  She putted her 6th stroke to about 2 feet and missed the short putt to get into a playoff with a brutal lip-out.  She tapped in for a gut-wrenching 8 and a runner-up finish.

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