Ryder Cup-winning captain Thomas Bjorn has hit out at the rules officials following the controversy that marred the opening day of the 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 conceding a birdie to the Americans.
However, as the players walked off the green, 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.
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...
It wouldn't be a Solheim Cup week without a little bit of controversy...😮— Sky Sports Ryder Cup (@SkySportsGolf) September 4, 2021
Was the correct decision made? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/SGQaJG4U0D
Sagstrom fought back tears as she disputed the decision after the round, with Korda and Ewing both visibly downcast, too.
According to Bjorn, who led Europe to victory in the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, the incident could have been avoided had officials applied some common sense rather than adhered rigidly to the rulebook.
Do rules officials in golf realise how unbelievably stupid they make our game look.— Thomas Bjørn (@thomasbjorngolf) September 4, 2021
Nothing like when rules officials want to be the centre of attention…— Thomas Bjørn (@thomasbjorngolf) September 4, 2021
Let’s be clear, as a player you know instantly if the ball has a chance of dropping. The American players made no claim so this is solely on the referees.— Thomas Bjørn (@thomasbjorngolf) September 4, 2021
Not clear enough for me for the ref to make that decision!
Reigning European No.1 Lee Westwood was equally unimpressed by the decision, saying "some people will be able to look in the mirror this morning and some people won’t".
"I wouldn’t be buying them a pint in the clubhouse after the fiddle at Worksop if they tried that one on me," he added. "The rules might have been applied correctly but I’m not sure it falls in line with the spirit of the game."