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August 21, 2013

Pepper: Rules mishaps gave Solheim Cup 'black eye'

Posted at 12:40 PM by Kevin Cunningham | Categories: Dottie Pepper, Rules of Golf, Solheim Cup

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Dottie Pepper (right) argues with a rules official at the Solheim Cup (Getty Images).

As you may have read in the past three days, the 2013 Solheim Cup did not exactly go the Americans' way last weekend. And that is to say they got pummeled.

But U.S. vice captain and golf analyst Dottie Pepper's fury toward the event was not just directed toward her players' performance, but the performance of the rules officials.

In an essay for ESPNW.com, Pepper explained her issue:

Friday afternoon's opening four-balls match endured a 27-minute ruling on the 15th hole, a ruling that not only stifled the momentum the U.S. team was building (yes, I am unapologetically biased in this opinion) but also was, in the end, absolutely incorrect.

It took the rules committee nearly three hours to issue a statement admitting that Carlota Ciganda of Spain had been allowed to hit from the wrong spot, an error that could not be corrected, according to the Solheim Cup captain's agreement.

I'm not claiming to be a rules expert, but I have been to USGA/PGA rules school twice and know enough to tell when things seem odd and when to ask questions of the referees. Stacy Lewis and I were absolutely barbecued for politely asking the referee to talk us through the process of how the ruling was decided and handled. It was only after that discussion that it became apparent that the ruling had been blown.

But Pepper's beef with the tournament's rules officials didn't end there:

...the damage had been done, mostly to the reputation of the competition's integrity. Compound it with another ruling that took more than 30 minutes late Saturday, and with European vice captain Annika Sorenstam's borderline violation of the advice rule earlier that same day (a situation that necessitated a call to the USGA by the Solheim Cup rules committee), and you're left with a pretty nasty black eye on an event that deserves better.

Surely the sting of the U.S. team's first-ever loss on home soil is still burning, but Pepper does bring up a good point: the Solheim Cup is broken in many, varied ways and is in need of some serious fixing.

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