This isn’t how any match is supposed to end, much less one to secure a spot in the final of the U.S. Girls’ Junior. Erica Shepherd, the winner, said she felt like she wanted to cry when it was over.
Shepherd’s putt for par on the 19th hole had already been conceded by opponent Elizabeth Moon. Shepherd, a Duke commit who had come from 2 down with four to play to force a playoff, stood off to the side and closed her eyes as Moon putted for birdie from 3 1/2 feet away. When she didn’t hear the putt drop, Shepherd said she opened her eyes to see Moon raking back her par putt. She’d missed it by a few inches.
Shepherd said her caddie, University of Indianapolis coach Brent Nicoson, asked if she had conceded the putt.
“I didn’t say that was good,” Shepherd told Moon.
Juli Inkster, who was working for Fox Sports, stopped mid-sentence while making the call: “Just a little quick and Erica Shepherd lives …”
The scene was reminiscent of the 2015 Solheim Cup when Suzann Pettersen said Alison Lee picked up a putt that had not been conceded.
The difference here, of course, is that Shepherd told rules officials she would have given Moon the putt had there been more time. Even tried to reverse it. But Moon incurred a penalty under Rule 18-2.
“I mean, we both tried to get it to where that putt was given to her but it just – it’s the Rules of Golf,” said Shepherd. “You can’t.”
Nicoson, Shepherd’s longtime instructor, called the whole situation sad.
“Erica went in the locker room to find (Moon) and give her a hug and (Moon) said, ‘I can’t believe I did it out of reaction, it’s not your fault,’ ” Nicoson wrote in a text, “but Erica feels terrible.”
Nicoson said both players handled a difficult situation better than many adults.
Shepherd, 16, will meet good friend Jennifer Chang (who defeated Taylor Roberts, 5 and 4, in her semifinal match) in Saturday’s 36-hole final match at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo. The pair were teammates at the recent Wyndham Cup, and Chang caddied for Shepherd after being eliminated.