It was a penalty, not a birdie, that determined the outcome of Carlota Ciganda’s match against Sarah Schmelzel on Day 1 of the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play.
Ciganda, the No. 17 seed, and Schmelzel, No. 48, were tied as they pushed their match to the closing par 5 at Shadow Creek Golf Club. Surprisingly, Ciganda, a four-time member of the European Solheim Cup team, never led during the match – until it was all over. Ciganda birdied the 18th to – seemingly – earn a 1-up win.
However, following the conclusion of play, the LPGA Tour notified Ciganda that she had been assessed a slow-play penalty at the 18th. Per the policy, Ciganda, who exceeded her allotted time for total strokes taken on the hole, was assessed a loss-of-hole penalty. That awarded Schmelzel the hole and subsequently the match.
Below is the statement from the LPGA Tour that was provided to GolfChannel.com regarding Ciganda’s penalty:
On the 18th hole of her Day One match, Carlota Ciganda was assessed a loss-of-hole penalty for a breach of the LPGA’s Match-Play Pace of Play Policy. Per the policy, a player is subject to penalty if she exceeds the allotted time for her total strokes taken on a hole by more than 10 seconds, averaging 30 seconds per shot. Ciganda exceeded the allotted time for the number of strokes taken on the 18th hole.
The inaugural match-play event employs a round-robin format for the first three days of play, which keeps Ciganda in the competition despite the loss. She is in Group 16 and will face No. 49 seed Lauren Stephenson on Thursday at 5:55 p.m. ET.