Amid a pace of play that saw nearly six-hour rounds for the final groups on Saturday, the USGA penalized Stanford amateur Andrea Lee a shot for slow play at the Country Club of Charleston in the 2019 US Women's Open.
Lee was first given a warning late in her third round. When she was unable to quicken her pace and received a bad time, the USGA assessed her a one-stroke penalty for violating pace of play.
After starting the day five shots off the lead, Lee shot 8-over 79, with the penalty stroke only adding to a rough day for the Stanford junior.
That Lee was the only player penalized on a day when the final groups -- who played in threesomes -- took 3 hours to complete their front nines, and when the final group took 5 hours, 40 minutes to play their full third round, seems an odd situation. Of course, Duke amateur Gina Kim was in the mix among the leaders, but professional players are typically more aware of a timing situation and have developed ways to deal with them, like avoiding bad times by having caddies run ahead and get numbers before a player arrives at the ball and can be timed.
According to Golfweek, which obtained an explanation of the penalty from the USGA, a change in the forecast wind direction created problems for players, particularly with the USGA setting up the course in line with the forecast. Players took longer to figure out shots, including Lee. Lee's group was put on the clock on the 15th hole, and she received a second bad time on the 16th hole.
Another slow-play penalty is unlikely today, with the final round played in twosomes. However, a 5-hour final round is in the cards depending on scoring conditions, with the championship on the line.
Pace-of-play penalties are rare in high-level golf. When they're been doled out in recent memory, they've been assessed against players who, frankly, don't have the star power or exposure to complain. At the 2013 Masters, then-14-year-old am Guan Tianlang was penalized a shot for slow play. In the 2017 edition of the two-man Zurich Classic, the PGA Tour issued a slow-play penalty to the team of Miguel Angel Carballo and Brian Campbell, marking the first such penalty on the tour in 22 years. On PGA Tour Champions last October, Corey Pavin was penalized a shot after the final round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, the first leg of the Tour's playoffs.