The LPGA isn’t doling out any penalties in Thailand for backstopping. An incident between Amy Olson and Ariya Jutanugarn on the 18th hole Friday ignited a passionate conversation on social media about whether or not the pair had broken Rule 15.3/1.
After Jutanugarn pitched close to the hole from just off the 18th green, she was set to go mark the ball before looking over at Olson, who told her it wasn’t necessary. Olson’s ball, which would’ve raced by the hole, hit Jutanugarn’s and stopped within a few feet.
After speaking with the players, the LPGA Rules Committee determined that there was no breach of Rule 15.3a, the LPGA said in a statement released late Friday night (Saturday morning in Thailand). “There was no agreement by either player to leave Jutanugarn’s ball in place to help Olson’s next stroke. An LPGA Rules Official was approaching the 18th green at the time and agreed that no breach had occurred.
“Rule 15.3a clearly states that for a breach to occur, that two or more players must agree to leave a ball in place to help any player on her next stroke. That was not the case between Olson and Jutanugarn.
GOLFWEEK: From Tiger to Thailand, get the latest
“Olson quickly played strictly to maintain pace of play, with her ball accidentally striking Jutanugarn’s ball on the green. Jutanugarn’s ball was properly replaced.”
Olson explained to Golfweek the context of what happened in a text about an hour before her Round 3 tee time. She’s two strokes back of leader Jenny Shin at the Honda LPGA Thailand. World No. 1 Jutanugarn trails by seven.
“We had waited on 18th tee, for 10 minutes in 18th fairway and Michelle (Wie) was waiting for a ruling,” Olson wrote. “To help pace of play, Ariya and I went before Michelle even though she was out. Ariya’s ball was not in my intended line and to help move things along, I told her it was fine. I had never even heard of the back-stopping issue as I don’t really watch PGA golf that much and it hasn’t been an issue on the LPGA. My intention was to help pace of play. Obviously with everything that has gone down I think we all (especially me) will be more conscious of it and I will have EVERYONE mark anything remotely close to the hole now.”
Olson reached out to the LPGA first thing Saturday morning (in Thailand) and was told there would be no penalty.