Sorenstam charges Americans with bad sportsmanship

By Stephen Wade
Thursday 22 September 2011 09:39

The Solheim Cup threatened to go the way of the acrimonious Ryder Cup when Swede Annika Sorenstam charged the Americans with bad sportsmanship in an "ugly" incident today in Luss, Scotland.

The Solheim Cup threatened to go the way of the acrimonious Ryder Cup when Swede Annika Sorenstam charged the Americans with bad sportsmanship in an "ugly" incident today in Luss, Scotland.

Sorenstam, after chipping in from about 25 feet for a birdie on the 13th, was told to replay the shot when the American pair of Kelly Robbins and Pat Hurst pointed out the Swede had played out of turn.

Sorenstam, who broke down in tears on the green, missed her replayed shot with Hurst then dropping a 3-foot birdie putt to increase the Americans' lead to two holes in a fourball match they eventually won 2 and 1.

There was no doubt the Americans had a right to ask for the replay. But the fact they did when they also could have let the shot stand in a good-natured show of sportsmanship- Sorenstam was about 1 1/2 yards closer to the hole than Robbins - cast the Americans as bad-spirited.

"It is just really sad when you have tournaments like this," Sorenstam said. "It is sad to see that the ugly part of them (Americans) came out because both Pat and Kelly are the nicest they have. And it is just sad to see that - that they don't even have sportsmanship."

Sorenstam, who lives in the United States, also gave a rousing speech to her team on the eve of the matches as underdog Europe spurted to an early lead in a bid to win only its second Solheim in six tries.

The '98 Solheim at Muirfield Village in Columbus, Ohio, also had a touch of controversy when American Dottie Pepper angered Europeans by her cheerleading - prompting the Europeans to put her picture on a punching bag.

The U.S. Ryder Cup win last year was also marred when the Americans charged onto the green in a premature celebration of victory as Jose Maria Olazabal was waiting to putt.

Match referee Barb Trammell, also the LPGA's director of tournament operations, said Robbins didn't seem to realize that Sorenstam was closer to the pin until she approached her ballmarker after the Swede's shot.

"I don't know that she (Robbins) noticed or even thought about location vs. her (Sorenstam's) location. It looked to me she didn't realize anything until she walked back to her marker," Trammell said.

Sorenstam said she had been told to play and just assumed it was her turn.

"The more time I have to think about it the more mad I am," she said. "It makes you ask the question: 'What would have happened if I didn't make it?' I stand for sportsmanship and I still have my honor left. I can't believe they would call it after the fact, that's what gets me the most."

Trammell described Robbins as "agonizing" over the situation with Randell saying American captain Pat Bradley made the final decision to request the replay. Trammell said the Americans, under the rules, could have let the shot stand.

"Under the rules of golf, it's just a question of fact," Trammell added. "Did you play out of turn? There are no extenuating circumstances."

"We have only the greatest respect for the rules of the game," Bradley said. "And we followed the rules as written. I took the decision out of Kelly's hands."

Sorenstam, who said their was total silence on the next tee, was also disappointed the women had slipped into behavior similar to the men in the Ryder Cup.

"Our goals was to make this a first-class event in the sense that we would show the men how to do it," Sorenstam said. "Personally, I don't think it turned out that way."

"It would have been nice if we could have had some fair matches and some sportsmanship ... It seems like it always has to be something and it's just sad. The whole team is disgusted."

"That was a crucial moment. I hit a great shot. I'll never forget it. Who knows how the match would have gone. A lot of things could be different."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments