FRENCH LICK (Indiana) • American golfer Lee Ann Walker was handed a whopping 58 penalty strokes over two rounds at this week's Senior LPGA Championship after it was brought to her attention that she violated a rule each time her caddie aided her putting alignment.
The 47-year-old was made aware of the rule, which results in a two-shot penalty for each violation, by another caddie in her group while on her fifth hole of the second round in French Lick, Indiana, but by then the damage had been done.
Walker, who made her LPGA debut in 1995 and played 13 years on the tour, was assessed 42 additional strokes in the first round, which ballooned her 13-over 85 to 127.
She took 16 more penalty strokes in the second round before learning of the rule to finish with a 90.
"I may have made the Guinness Book of World Records, this may be my claim to fame," she told Golfweek. "Not exactly how I was looking to do it."
The R&A and US Golf Association implemented a change that went into effect on Jan 1 prohibiting caddies from lining up a player on the putting surface under Rule 10.2b.
"Now that I don't play the LPGA anymore, I don't watch golf," added Walker, who works in real estate.
"I knew there were rule changes. I just honestly didn't know them. Just plain and simple. My stupidity for not going over the changes."
She was not disqualified because Rule 3.3b states players will not be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard for failing to include "one or more penalty strokes the player did not know about before returning the scorecard".
Asked if she would return to French Lick, she said: "Oh, I would love to. Now I know that rule."
Helen Alfredsson of Sweden shot a final-round 70 for 214 to win by three shots from Juli Inkster (76). She also won the other Major, the US Senior Women's Open.
REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN