Slow play penalty overshadows Sybase Match Play semi-final match
By mustang6560 on 5/21/12
Azahara Munoz defeated Candie Kung 2&1 to win the Sybase Match Play Championship Sunday. But, her first professional victory on the LPGA was overshadowed by a controversial slow play penalty during her semi-final match against Morgan Pressel.
It all reverted to the morning semifinal in which Munoz and Pressel were both slow, although Munoz was admittedly a little slower. They were warned about slow play after nine holes and put on the clock after No. 11.

The 12th hole changed everything. Pressel won it with a par to seemingly take a 3-up lead.

However, before she could tee off on No. 13, tour official Doug Brecht informed her that she was being penalized for slow play. She had taken 2:09 to play her three shots, 39 seconds over the 30-second limit per shot.

In match play, a time penalty is the loss of the previous hole and that handed the admittedly slow-playing Munoz the hole. She was 1-down and back in the match.
The awkwardness of the Azahara-Morgan match did not end there. On the 15th green, Morgan accused Azahara of touching her intended line, which Azahara denied. The rules officials reviewed the videotape and said they did not see any evidence of a breach of rules, so Azahara was not assessed a penalty and she made the birdie putt to square the match heading into the 16th. The Spaniard went on to win the match against Morgan 2&1.

I feel bad for both players. Obviously, it sucks Morgan was assessed a slow play penalty, which changed the momentum of the match. But, it also sucks for Azahara because many people will discount her first career victory.

In professional sports, you hate to see the referee decide the game by calling a technicality penalty (a foot fault in tennis or a travel in basketball). And in the case of the Sybase Match Play Championship, the decision to assess a slow play penalty against Morgan decided the match. I guarantee you that the big wigs at the PGA Tour headquarters will follow the reaction of the next few weeks to decide if/when the PGA Tour will potentially cost one of its players a match.

Following the final round of the tournament, Morgan was there to congratulate Azahara on her victory, which was a great gesture of sportswomanship. The pair were friends prior to the start of the Sybase and they said they will remain friends after the Sybase. What's $225,000 between friends (Azahara won $375k to Morgan's $150k)?

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Image via LPGA.com


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[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
Assessing a "slow play" penalty at that point of the match was a poor decision. That being said, once one is told that you are on the clock, the only sensible thing to do is to play within the time constraints. 30 seconds is a long time to hit a shot, especially with a caddy at your side. If I had to wait 30 seconds to hit my shot once it was my turn, I would go crazy. The final onus for the result is on Morgan Pressel.
5/21/12
 
SpaceMaNy0 says:
What's traveling? Haven't seen that called in years.
5/21/12
 
Duke of Hazards says:
I'm going to start putting my wife on the clock in the morning when she's getting ready for work... then again, that's probably not a good idea.
5/21/12
 
Banker85 says:
Tech for traveling, i take it you don't run a basketball blog on the side huh Nate? But i get your point about letting the ref's be a factor in the outcome of a game. A win is a win and most wont remember the issues down the road just the W.
5/21/12
 
mustang6560 says:
@Banker85- I thought people would misinterpret the word *techincal* so I changed it to technicality.
5/21/12
 
Banker85 says:
lol @ Duke, good luck with that! "Uh Honey you are 30 seconds over your time limit for ding your makeup. I'll have to assess you a 100 stroke penalty" haha get it 100 strokes!
5/21/12
 
Duke of Hazards says:
I see what you did there, Banker. I'm actually just worried that my plan will backfire and I'll end up losing the hole.

okay, now I'm done.
5/21/12
 
mjaber says:
The only violation called less frequently than travelling in basketball is "palming".
5/21/12
 
jcstoll says:
So the pace of play rules different between match and stroke play? From the Kevin Na experience at the Players, there was a lot of talk about slow play on the PGA tour, and suggestions of a stroke penalty, vs just the current non-publicized nominal fine. But in match play it's loss of hole?
5/21/12
 
jkyleolson says:
From the way I read this, they both were warned. One listen and one didn't. I see no need to complain about the enforcement of a rule.
5/21/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
Nathan. It's a bit sensationalist of you to declare "Slow play penalty decides Match Play semifinal.." According to my math Munoz won the match by two holes. Pressel was assessed a one-hole penalty. Ignoring the so-called axiom of causality, even if the penalty had not been assessed Munoz still had a good chance of one-upping Pressel by match's end. If the match had been tied when the penalty was assessed, only then might it be fair to say that the penalty decided the match.
5/21/12
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
(1) This is the tip of the iceberg. If the LPGA starts doing it, you'd better believe that Tim Finchem is willing to start enforcing the rules on the PGA, Nationwide, and Champions tours. Glen Day, consider yourself warned.

(2) This reminds me of a rule NOT enforced - the controversial skate-in-the-crease rule that was ignored when Brett Hull skated around Dominik Hasek in Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, scoring the GWG in 3-OT.
5/21/12
 
Banker85 says:
even better then the first one Duke! +2
5/21/12
 
Banker85 says:
@beef: but Pressel would have been up 3 holes at that point had she not been penalized. Up 3 holes with 7 to play is somewhat daunting and the momentum was clearly on Pressel's side. So it in reality was a 2 hole swing on 1 hole. Munoz went from being down 3 to just 1 and back in it. I got your back Nate!
5/21/12
 
mustang6560 says:
@Banker85- (double taps chest with clenched fist, points to sky). @legitimatebeef makes a fair point though, so I amended the title as to not misrepresent the nature of the penalty.
5/21/12
 
accarson3 says:
Just curious...when is the clock started on a shot? Is it when the ball is addressed or does it start when selecting a club, looking at the line, fixing socks, etc.?
5/21/12
 
mmontisano says:
now if only the PGA TOUR will grow a pair and do the same.
5/21/12
 
Bryan K says:
How is the 30 seconds assessed? When does the clock start?

Seriously? When it comes to "slow play", I tend to find more fault with what people do in between shots.
5/21/12
 
DaRupp13 says:
Banker and Duke...that was hysterical.
5/22/12
 
accarson3 says:
@Bryan K...you are right about slow play, I was just wondering when the PGA/LPGA started the "official" clock on shots.
5/22/12
 
sjm says:
from what i seen. munoz was the reason the pair was put on the clock. pressell has always played pretty quick. they should be timed seperately. seems like so much common sense.
5/23/12
 
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