Brittany Lang claimed her first major title by beating Anna Nordqvist in a three-hole playoff in the 71st U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, near San Jose.
Unfortunately, the tournament will be remembered for what happened to Nordqvist.
After Lang and Nordqvist posted pars on the first extra hole, the Swede was assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding her club in a bunker on second playoff hole, No. 17.
However, USGA officials didn’t inform her of the penalty until after she hit her third on the final playoff hole.
“You never want to win with a penalty or something like that happening, especially to Anna, who is a friend of mind and a great player and a classy girl,” said Lang, whose only other LPGA Tour victory came in the 2012 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
“But it’s unfortunate. It’s part of the game and it happened that way. I still had to play pretty damn good golf to get up there. So really proud of myself.”
Lang closed with a 1-under-par 71, while Nordqvist had a bogey-free 67.
Lang posted three straight pars and a total of 12 strokes in the playoff, while Nordqvist followed an opening par with what turned into a double-bogey 6 and a bogey 5 for a total of 15.
“I couldn’t really believe that it happened,” said Nordqvist, who has won six times on the LPGA Tour, including a major at the 2009 McDonald’s LGA Championship. “It wasn’t my intention to ground the club. It’s blowing 45, 40 (mph) out there, and I had a 5-iron off a downhill lie in the bunker. It’s been a long day, a long week. So probably misjudged it a little bit and touched a little bit of sand and that is a penalty.
“I just wish they would have told me a little earlier. They told me after I hit my third shot. It might not have changed anything, but I just wish it was a little bit earlier. … I still finished second in the U.S. Open. I don’t think anyone should feel sorry for me.”
Last month, Dustin Johnson was assessed a one-stroke penalty after the final round when USGA officials determined he caused his golf ball to move on the fifth green in the final round of the U.S. Open,
DJ wasn’t told there might be a problem until he was on the back nine, but shook off the incident and claimed his first major title.
John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of competitions and championships and governance, said Nordqvist was informed of the penalty as soon as possible.
“We received a call from FOX about … was there any issue with anything that had happened in the bunker,” Bodenhamer said. “And that was the first that we heard of it. We were not aware of anything at that time. We immediately called a member of our staff who was watching the live coverage, and he verified that he could not see anything in watching it. I think at that point he had watched it three times and did not see anything.
“At that time we decided that we would, nonetheless, proactively go up to the compound … because we wanted to just put your own eyeballs on it, make sure it was conclusive, and we just wanted to see it and understand it. So in just a couple of minutes, we went up to the compound and we had a look at it. We concluded that it was a breach. We quickly consulted with our committee and decided that we would inform Anna immediately. ”
Top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who took a one-stroke lead into the final round, struggled to a 75 and finished two shots back in a tie for third with three South Koreans–Amy Yang (73), Eun-Hi Ji (74) and Sung Hyun Park (74).
Stacy Lewis wound up another stroke back in solo seventh after a 71, while Gerina Piller shot 70 to tie for eighth with Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England, who also had a 70, and Cristie Kerr, who came in at 72.
Brooke Henderson of Canada, who won the Women’s PGA Championship last month, carded her third 76 of the tournament and finished 64th.