Weighty rule DQs Inkster from Safeway Classic

LPGA golfer used weighted donut to warm up on course

By Brian T. Smith, Columbian Sports Writer

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NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Dustin Johnson has company.

Less than a week after the PGA player watched his strong run at the PGA Championship suddenly end due to a controversial final-round penalty, the LPGA’s Juli Inkster endured her own minor tragedy.

Inkster learned Saturday evening after walking off the Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek Course that she had been disqualified from the Safeway Classic.

The DQ nullified an impressive showing by the 28-year veteran, who shot 5-under par and initially rose into a tie for second place.

LPGA rules official Sue Witter said Inkster used a weighted practice donut on a 9-iron club while killing time during a 30-minute wait prior to teeing off on the par-5 10th hole.

However, LPGA officials did not immediately notice the infraction, and were not made aware of the incident until Inkster was on 17.

Witter said a television viewer first detected the infringement. The unnamed fan then contacted tournament officials, who sent an e-mail to the tournament staff. Rules officials then had to view a TV replay to confirm Inkster’s error.

Rule 14-3/10 in the United States Golf Association’s rules states that a player may not make a stroke or practice swing using a club with a weighted headcover or “donut.”

Witter said the knowledge that Inkster would immediately be disqualified because of her infraction was not an easy weight to carry. Thus, rules officials called the USGA before informing Inkster.

“That’s a penalty that you never want to give anyone if it’s not deserved,” Witter said. “And we would’ve loved to have some wiggle room on that. But it’s pretty cut and dry.”

She added: “There wasn’t much to say once the decision was read.”

Witter described Inkster as being very surprised but professional after learning about the disqualification. Witter asserted that Inkster only used the donut because she wanted to warm up while waiting to start the back nine.

“There was no malice there,” Witter said.