Suzann Pettersen swears neither she, nor teammate Charley Hull, conceded an 18-inch putt to Alison Lee in the resumed fourball match on Sunday at the Solheim Cup. So, when Lee scooped up what would have been a par putt to halve the 17th hole, assuming it was good, Pettersen pounced.
The Norwegian told walking referee Dan Maselli that the Europeans had not given the putt to Lee, even if their body language showed it. Pettersen, Hull and their caddies were walking to the 18th tee. Maselli had started to announce the hole had been halved in par before Lee even scooped up her potential par bid.
However, under the Rules of Golf, Pettersen and Hull are in the clear: If they didn’t explicitly give the putt to Lee, then Lee can’t pick it up. After speaking with both teams, Maselli ruled that the Europeans had not conceded the putt, so Lee would have needed to take a penalty stroke and replace her ball, meaning she could score no better than 5. The Europeans had, in fact, won the 17th hole and went to the 18th with a 1-up edge. After winning the 18th against the shellshocked U.S. side, the Europeans won the match.
After the match, Lee and Lincicome were confused and visibly livid. Pettersen, much more so than Hull, was adamant in the defense of her actions. Lee walked away in tears, consoled by American captain Juli Inkster. So, too, did Hull.
“I looked at it and I thought I heard it was good,” Lee said. “They said they didn’t say it was, but I could have sworn I thought I heard it was good. To me it looked good. It was a really short putt, easy putt. And at the same time, Charley was walking off the green and Suzann was already off the green, so there was no doubt in my mind that putt was good. I didn’t even think twice about it. So I just picked it up.”
“She said she actually heard [someone] say that’s good,” Lincicome said in a statement released in between the resumed matches and the scheduled 12 singles matches on Sunday. “I don’t know if somebody in the crowd said it.”
Lee seems to have made a rookie mistake. Pettersen seems to have made a spur-of-the-moment judgment that will have a lasting impact.
European captain Carin Koch, who has been a follower of the letter of the law this week, including the Captains’ Agreement, defended her player.
“It’s clear the putt wasn’t conceded,” Koch said. “Both Suzann and Charley agree, they would have made her putt out. Even Brittany Lincicome was saying `Don’t pick it up, don’t pick it up.’ She was screaming to her, but too late.”
Inkster said Pettersen’s gamesmanship isn’t something her peers on either side would do.
Then, succinctly, she wrapped up her thoughts on the matter: “It’s B.S.”