Player fails to putt out in controversial match

Rufina Vignone
Luglio 29, 2017

Moon had a birdie putt from less than four feet away to win the match and advance to the finals.

Thinking that the barely centimetres putt had been conceded, Moon took her putt back - which is allowed within the ruled - to its original spot for another practice crack at the winning putt.

"Today, in a semifinal match of the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship, Rule 18-2 was applied in response to Elizabeth Moon purposely moving her ball on the 19th green while it was still in play", said Craig Winter, USGA director of rules of golf and amateur status on the association's website. Erica Shepherd, the victor, said she felt like she wanted to cry when it was over.

And that's when the controversy began: Shepherd, who had her eyes closed during the putt, hadn't conceded the hole. She'd missed it by a few inches.

Shepherd believed that because she meant to concede the putt, the match would continue as normal.

"I didn't say that was good", Shepherd said.

Juli Inkster, who was working for Fox Sports, stopped mid-sentence while making the call: "Just a little quick and Erica Shepherd lives ..." Shepherd did not announce she was conceding the par attempt before Moon moved her ball. Even tried to reverse it.

"And then my coach was like, 'Did you give that to her?' I was like, 'No'".

Moon obviously violated the rule by acting too quickly.

Nicoson, Shepherd's longtime instructor, called the whole situation sad. "But I sure feel bad for Elizabeth, what happened on that hole".

Nicoson said both players handled a hard situation better than many adults.

Moon's attempt for the win on the first sudden-death hole (The par-5 14th at Boone Valley in Augusta, Mo.) missed on the low side and trickled - depending on what angle you look at - anywhere from six inches to almost a foot passed the hole. The pair were teammates at the recent Wyndham Cup, and Chang caddied for Shepherd after being eliminated.

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