Ruling hands title to Stewart

Women’s junior golf champ got some help

And on the final day the skies finally cleared, but this time it was raining controversy at the Manitoba Men’s and Women’s Junior Golf Championships at Rossmere Golf and Country Club.

Actually, the controversy only rained on the junior women’s event, which was decided by an official’s ruling. The junior men’s title was a much more straightforward affair, as final-round leader Ryan Pitzel fired four birdies on the final 18 to shoot 72 on his home course and win the 2009 title by three strokes over Southwood’s Bryce Barr.

The 2009 Manitoba Junior Women’s title, on the other hand, was decided on a rules violation when co-leader Jessie Choi was asessed a two-stroke penalty as she walked off the 18th green.


The penalty — for failing to replace her ball in its original position when it was struck by an opponent’s ball earlier in the round — broke a tie between Choi and Selkirk’s Lindsay Stewart and handed Stewart her first provincial golf championship.

“It means so much. I’m at a loss for words right now,” said Stewart, 18, who just graduated from high school and will play on the University of Manitoba golf team next year.

“So many years of golfing and it finally paid off. It’s my last year and I finally won.”

Choi’s parents live in Manitoba but she attends high school in Houston so she can golf year-round. It was a bitter pill to swallow for Choi, who also finished second at last year’s provincial juniors.

She had a commanding six-stroke lead on Stewart coming into the final round but recorded double bogeys at the seventh, 12th and 16th holes, not to mention the quintuple bogey on 10, which was already a triple even before the penalty was assessed.

Choi’s ball was lying on the 10th green when Stewart’s approach struck it. Because the strike caused her ball to roll further from the hole, Choi said she figured it was OK to just play it from there instead of trying to figure out where it originally was.

But that’s contrary to the rule, which states that the ball that was struck must be moved back to its original position while the ball that did the striking is played where it finally comes to rest, said Lisa Andersen, director of competitions for Golf Manitoba.

Andersen said Choi sought a ruling, but only after playing out the hole. “And it’s too late then,” said Andersen.

Choi was incredulous. “Her ball hit my ball and my ball went further from the hole. And I get a penalty?” asked Choi.

“She should get the penalty.”

Choi was not informed she’d been assessed the penalty until after the completion of the round, which saw her tie Stewart when she made par on the 18th while Stewart bogeyed, meaning both women finished with three-round totals of 250 — before the penalty was imposed.

Stewart empathized with Choi, but only so far. “Rules are a huge part of golf,” she said. “If she’d known that rule, we’d still be tied.”

Like Stewart, Pitzel will also play on the University of Manitoba golf team next year.

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