PARKER, Colo. – American Stacy Lewis was furious over an official’s ruling that cleared the way to an improper drop by Europe’s Carlota Ciganda in a pivotal fourball match Friday afternoon at the Solheim Cup.
Lewis and Lexi Thompson were all square going to the 15th hole in their match with Ciganda and Suzann Pettersen. After the drop, Ciganda saved par, improbably halving the hole. The Euros went on to win the 16th hole and ultimately win the match, 1 up.
There was controversy after Pettersen and Ciganda both hit their second shots at the 15th hole into a lateral hazard right of the hole. While Pettersen took herself out of the hole, Ciganda set up to take a drop. She took it on a line 40 yards behind where it was deemed her ball entered the hazard. She did this after a prolonged discussion with rules officials estimated to have lasted 25 minutes.
Ultimately, rules official Brad Alexander said the drop was incorrect.
“The point the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard was accurately established and one of the options, under Rule 26-1c, is for the player to drop her ball on the opposite margin of the hazard, equidistant from the hole,” Alexander said. “That point was also accurately established. The rule allows the player to drop within two club lengths of that point, on the equal and opposite margin. However, a mistake was made, and the player was allowed to drop behind that point, in line with the flagstick.”
Ciganda dropped 40 yards behind that point. U.S. captain Meg Mallon said the drop gave Ciganda an advantage she shouldn’t have received, apparently improving her angle of approach.
“The player ended up dropping in the wrong place,” Alexander said.
Ciganda hit the green with her fourth shot and holed a 15-foot putt to save par and halve the hole.
“I wanted the reasoning behind it,” Lewis said. “But the explanation did not make it more clear to me. It actually made me have more questions.”
Mallon said the 25 minutes it took to make the ruling compounded the problem for the Americans.
“From our perspective, the momentum, which was coming in our favor at that point in time, obviously, had stopped,” Mallon said.
Mallon said Thompson waited 25 minutes over a chip shot while the ruling was being made.
Alexander said the ruling would stand. Mallon said the Americans may not have properly challenged the decision.
“There was a lot of complaining going on,” Mallon said. “I don’t know if it was a proper complaint, but there was a lot of commotion going on with the galleries and everything else. Stacy was complaining all the way through, and Lexi wasn’t happy as well.”