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A controversial rules incident has overshadowed the opening day of the 2021 Solheim Cup.

Playing in the opening match of the afternoon fourballs session, European duo Madelene Sagstrom and Nanna Koerstz Madsen were all-square with Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing on the 13th when an eagle putt from world No.1 Korda narrowly missed on the high side. 

With Korda’s ball having come to a full stop, Sagstrom walked in and picked up Korda’s ball to concede the birdie to the Americans. 

As the players walked off the green, however, a rules official approached Sagstrom to explain that she had not allowed the ten seconds permitted under Rule 13.3 to see if the ball would drop into the hole. As a result, Korda was awarded the eagle and, rather than being halved in birdie, the Americans won the hole. 

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The incident proved to be decisive with the Americans winning the contest one-up. 

However, was the ball “overhanging” the hole? Was there any chance of it dropping in? Judge for yourself…

Afterwards, Sagstrom fought back tears as she spoke to Sky Sports Golf about the incident.

“Obviously, I wasn’t following the rules about leaving the ball for ten seconds but I do believe in integrity and the honour of the game of golf,” said the Swede. “I would never pick up a putt that had a chance to go in. So I, personally, don’t agree with the decision about the ball being on the edge but I didn’t follow the ten second rule.

“It sucks right now because I feel like I let my team down. It’s just sad that the game’s going to be [decided] on that decision.”

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Neither Korda nor Ewing took any pleasure in the ruling, either, both looking visibly downcast when they spoke to Sky.

“That situation was very unfortunate,” said Korda. “You don’t want to win a hole like that… but we honestly had no say in it. It was all up to the rules committee. It feels weird, obviously, but they did the best that they could with the situation.”

Ewing added: “We didn’t call the rules official to ask anything so we hope that they understand we weren’t trying to get the hole that way. It rattled both teams and we had to fight through it.”

Europe leads 5.5-2.5 going into the second day of their title defence.


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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