The U.S. Golf Association announced Wednesday that players competing at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open will play the ball as it lies despite the Shoal Creek course in Alabama being drenched by Subtropical Storm Alberto in the days leading up to the event.
The course remained closed Wednesday with lightning in the area. Nearly four inches of rain has deluged the course over the past several days, with Tuesday’s practice round closed to fans and all non-essential personnel.
The extremely wet conditions forced the USGA to consider implementing a lift, clean and place rule for the first time in the history of the organization.
“Our intention is to rely on our considerable experience,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director. “We played 72 of these U.S. Women’s Opens, in fact, 117 U.S. Open Championships playing the ball as it lies, finishing the competition and so it’s our intention to do that this week as well.”
Two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion and No. 1-ranked Inbee Park called it the wettest conditions she has ever seen at the event. Many players got a practice round in on Monday and the practice facilities were opened Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s the USGA,” Lizette Salas said on Tuesday, anticipating the ruling of playing the ball as it lies. “They think differently than the LPGA.”
The concern among players is muddy balls affecting their play on a course that suffered through a very wet winter and spring even before Alberto arrived.
“Honestly, I would think that they would have to play the ball up,” third-ranked Lexi Thompson said Tuesday, per Golfweek. “I played it yesterday and it was pretty wet in some spots and some of the fairways are a little bare in some spots. So, I think it will be a little unfair if they don’t, but, you never know. I mean if they don’t, everybody has to play it down and it is what it is but it’s their choice.”
—Field Level Media