RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Helen Alfredsson was visibly upset leaving the Mission Hills Country Club’s clubhouse Wednesday afternoon.
She was seen in tears earlier in the day.
News that she was being withdrawn from the Kraft Nabisco Championship for missing a pro-am tee time Wednesday hit her hard. Technically, she wasn’t being disqualified from the championship, but that’s what it felt like. Maria Hjorth and Shanshan Feng also were withdrawn for missing pro-am tee times.
“I have no comment,” Alfredsson said after leaving a meeting with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan.
Twice this reporter approached Alfredsson for her explanation, but she declined to answer questions both times.
Alfredsson is a former Kraft Nabisco champ (1993). She’s also a member of the LPGA’s board of directors.
Here’s what happened: Alfredsson went to bed Tuesday night as the third alternate for the early morning tee times on the Arnold Palmer course at Mission Hills. When Amy Alcott withdrew from the pro-am, No. 1 alternate Seon Hwa Lee moved into Alcott's spot. Alfredsson moved up to the No. 2 alternate with Maria Hjorth No. 1. When Patty Sheehan was a no-show for her 8:40 a.m. tee time, LPGA officials tried unsuccessfully to reach Hjorth. LPGA officials then turned to Alfredsson but also couldn’t reach her. Natalie Gulbis was the next alternate, but she exercised her right to a pro-am exemption, something each player can do once a year. Finally, Michele Redman filled Sheehan’s spot.
Sheehan, according to LPGA officials, did not show for her tee time due to a “miscommunication” with tournament officials.
Alfredsson appealed her withdrawal but was denied.
LPGA rules require that alternates check in with officials before the pro-am begins to make themselves available should withdrawals require their participation. Players who fail to show up for pro-am tee times are withdrawn from the tournament.
“Helen spoke to Mike about it and tried to explain she was available and wasn’t contacted,” said David Higdon, the LPGA’s chief communications officer.
Why Alfredsson couldn't be reached remains unclear. Whan said Alfredsson's discussion with rules officials, and her appeal, were confidential discussions.
'It's tough for everyone, but it's tough to bend a rule,' Whan said.
Alfredsson, Hjorth and Feng will not be replaced in the field.