Rule controversy disqualifies Hartigan, drops team to sixth

Zach Sepanik

No one could have predicted what occurred in the final round of the Gilda’s Club Laker Invite on Sunday. With the unpredictable Michigan weather, you would probably assume snow postponed play. Instead, a broken putter left sophomore Kelly Hartigan disqualified and the Grand Valley State University women’s golf team in sixth place.

It was a bizarre sequence of events. With a shotgun start and the entire field beginning their final round at the same time, Hartigan started play on the 4th hole. Fast forward to No. 17 where she is lining up her second putt. Hartigan’s attempt goes by the hole and in frustration, she kicks her putter, bending it. Without knowledge of the rule, she goes to tap-in with a “broken” putter, grounds for disqualification.

“When a club becomes unconforming, as they call it, it has to be removed from play,” said GVSU head coach Rebecca Mailloux. “Well, we removed it from play when we realized it was bent on the 18th hole, but apparently she had a tap-in putt on 17. It was supposedly bent at that point so because she used that bent putter to tap-in a little putt, the breach of that rule, you become disqualified. It’s extreme.”

Without a putter, Hartigan had to play holes 18, one, two and three with a 52-degree gap wedge, something she is not accustomed to.

“A lot of people just messing around putt with their wedge and hit it right in the middle of the ball and just mess around,” said Hartigan. “I honestly have never done that so it was completely new. That was interesting.”

Needless to say, the controversy was the talk of Meadows’ clubhouse following the tournament.

“When we were calling all the (United States Golf Association) rules officials and having a rules committee look at things, they were all saying it was very drastic ruling against that,” said Hartigan. “It is final as of right now. I don’t know if anything is going to be changed, but we are still trying to work on something.”

Having to drop Hartigan’s score from Sunday’s round pushed the Lakers from third to sixth place in the final team standings. Junior Veronica Ryan’s 94 then became the final score contributing to the team total of 332 in the final round.

Senior Marni Weinstein carded a 74 to lead the Lakers on day two, placing fifth individually with a 155 total score. Freshman Gabrielle Shipley was close behind, shooting a 79, while junior Cassady Kauble ended the tournament the same way she started it with an 85.

With a team score of 323 after the opening round, the Lakers sat in a tie for fourth with the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Hartigan not only led the Lakers, but the entire field, recording the best round of any individual with an even-par, 72.

“The conditions were just very easy,” said Hartigan. “I was hitting the ball well and I know the greens obviously better than any other course that we play. Everything was just going well. It was nice being at our home tournament.”

Weinstein came in just behind Hartigan, carding an 81, while Shipley shot an 85. With only four scores contributing to the team score, Ryan just missed the cut for GVSU on day one with an 86.

Meanwhile, sophomore Molly Esordi had a strong showing scoring an 82. Day two saw her shoot an 89 to finish in a tie for 36th on the individual leaderboard.

“We always have a good back-up system as the fifth and sixth players can all contend for those top-four scores,” said Kauble. “We do have pretty good depth to our team this year. You are playing to be able to score for the team and we all do really well trying to make each other better.”

The team will complete their fall season by competing in the Bing-Beall Classic at Findlay Country Club on Oct. 7 and 8.

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