(Reuters) – Team Europe’s Madelene Sagstrom struggled to keep her emotions in check after a rules controversy erupted on the first day of the Solheim Cup on Saturday.
The United States’ Nelly Korda was putting for an eagle on the par-five 13th during the afternoon fourball session, when her ball stopped on the edge of the hole and was picked up by Sagstrom and handed back to her.
Officials quickly intervened, ruling that Korda’s ball was overhanging the lip and that Sagstrom had not waited the mandatory 10 seconds to see if the ball would drop in before picking it up.
Korda was awarded the eagle, giving the U.S. pair of Korda and Ally Ewing a 1-up lead over Sagstrom and her partner Nanna Koerstz Madsen, which the American duo maintained until the end of the round.
“Obviously I wasn’t following the rules about leaving the ball for 10 seconds,” a teary eyed Sagstrom said. “I believe in integrity and the honour of the game of golf, and I would never pick up a putt that had a chance to go in.
“I don’t agree with the decision of the ball being on the edge but I didn’t follow the 10-second rule so it sucks right now. I feel like I let my team down.”
Sagstrom was adjudged to have fallen foul of Rule 13.3b, which states that “if the opponent in match play deliberately lifts or moves the player’s ball overhanging the hole before the waiting time has ended, the player’s ball is treated as holed with the previous stroke.”
“It was definitely awkward, and you don’t want to win a hole like that,” Korda said. “We told ourselves to focus on golf and finish it off.”
Sagstrom’s partner Koerstz Madsen leapt to her team mate’s defence.
“I just want to give a shout out to Madelene for handling this so perfectly,” she said. “People started yelling terrible stuff, and it was not fun for Madelene to be in that position.
“She felt bad and she really shouldn’t, golf shouldn’t go down to a putt that would never have gone in.”
Despite the setback, the European team lead the U.S. by three points at the end of the first day.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Alistair Bell)