Around two dozen golfers gathered in Roslyn, Wash., on Wednesday to play a 36-hole qualifier for one spot in the 2010 U.S. Women's Open. A day later, the winner is not yet known - and likely won't be until the middle of next week. The reason: Grooves.
Christine Wong, of Richmond, B.C., and Erynne Lee, of Silverdale, Wash., finished the qualifier at Tumble Creek Club east of Seattle tied at 147. They went into a playoff. Both parred the first extra hole, then Lee parred the second playoff hole while Wong bogied.
So Lee won, right? Welllll ... that's yet to be determined. The qualifier was played in wet conditions, and throughout the 36 holes on Wednesday some of Lee's fellow-competitors noticed that she was getting significantly more spin out of the wet rough than anyone else.
According to an official with the Washington State Golf Association, which was running the qualifier, some of the others in the field asked whether players' wedges would be checked for conformity with the new condition of competition governing grooves. So on-site officials checked Lee's wedges.
And that's where it gets complicated. An official on-site said that Lee's wedges appeared to have deeper grooves than the wedges of others in the field. And at first glance, one of Lee's wedges showed up on the USGA's non-conforming list, while the conformity of two others could not be determined. At that point, the WSGA expected Lee to be disqualified and Wong to be declared the winner and gain entry into the U.S. Women's Open.
But at second glance, and after discussions with the USGA, the one wedge that was originally believed non-conforming became something of a mystery, with discrepancies discovered between its serial/model numbers and the nonconforming list. And Lee's other two wedges do not appear on either the conforming or non-conforming lists.
So where does it stand? Lee and Wong are left waiting and wondering while Lee ships her wedges to the USGA for inspection. With the Memorial Day holiday delaying the shipment, the USGA likely won't receive the clubs until mid-week next week.
Lee is one of the top junior golfers in the U.S. She was a member of the 2008 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team, reached the semifinals of the U.S. Women's Amateur that year, and played in the 2008 U.S. Women's Open. All when she was 15 years old. She is the two-time WSGA Junior Girls Player of the Year, and is currently No. 21 in Golfweek's junior girls rankings.
The new condition of competition regarding grooves, instituted for touring pros in 2010, does not apply to top amateur competitions until 2014. But the new groove rules do apply in sectional qualifiers for the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open beginning this year.