Sung Hyun Park takes Evian lead, but debate rages on about cancelled scores

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Sung Hyun Park takes Evian lead, but debate rages on about cancelled scores

LPGA Tour

Sung Hyun Park takes Evian lead, but debate rages on about cancelled scores

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France – And the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park was dead last after carding a quintuple-bogey and triple bogey when LPGA officials decided to the scrap scores from Thursday at the Evian Championship.

The World No. 3 took advantage of a clean slate on Friday, and posted an 8-under 63 to lead the season’s fifth major, a remarkable and controversial 14-stroke turnaround. Meanwhile, top-ranked Seo Yeon Ryu, who played alongside Park, went from a share of first at 2 under, to 4-over 75.

“I mean, we all expected it as soon as we saw it,” said Jessica Korda, who was also at 2 under when play was canceled. “You know it’s going to happen.”

The LPGA’s decision to wipe out scores from Thursday’s play and cut the event to 54 holes sparked heated debate amongst players and officials. The fact that Park, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open champ, went from absolute famine to feast overnight could have significant implications on year-end awards and money, particularly the Rolex Player of the Year, Rolex Annika Major Award and Race to the CME Globe year-end bonus.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised,” said Park of the LPGA’s decision.

England’s Bronte Law is new to the LPGA but well-versed in poor conditions. She was surprised to see the tour make the decision to cut the event to 54 holes so quickly.

“We were about to go out at 2:05 p.m. and by 3 p.m. the tournament is 54 holes,” she said. “I don’t know whether rushed is the right word, but maybe.”

Laura Davies was 4 over through eight holes when play stopped on Thursday. She posted a 69 in Friday’s mulligan round. The World Golf Hall of Famer said this is the fourth time in her career that scores have been scrapped. Half the time it has worked in her favor.

“I thought it was the fairest thing to do,” Davies said.

Karrie Webb wasn’t in the morning wave and therefore didn’t hit a shot in competition on Thursday.

“Actually when the decision was made, I was impartial because I didn’t know,” said Webb. “But the more I’ve thought about it, I really think it was just the luck of the draw and scores should’ve been kept.”

Heather Daly-Donofrio, LPGA chief communications and tour operations officer, said the tour made the decision to scrap the scores to “create as equitable as possible of a playing field.” The forecast on Friday called for nothing but sun, and officials felt the conditions between waves would be too drastically different.

“You’re looking at the playability of the golf course,” she said, “you’re looking at the forecast, you’re looking at how deep players got into their rounds.”

While Thursday afternoon included hours of uninterrupted sunshine, LPGA officials deemed the course unplayable. When asked why the call was made so early, Daly-Donofrio said officials looked at the weekend forecast and worried they might need Monday just to get in 54 holes. (Davies, by the way, won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open on a Tuesday.)

Davies said it’s important to look at the bigger picture in these situations noting that, “Professional golfers are selfish.”

Korda admitted to being annoyed about the LPGA’s decision until 9 p.m. Thursday night.

“Then I was like, all right, screw it; when I wake up, it’s a new day,” she said.

The four-time winner did her best to erase the previous day from her mind and posted a 4-under 67 to trail Park by four.

“Obviously, look at this weather, I see what they were talking about in terms of it’s not going to be fair,” said Korda. “But when is it ever fair? … That’s golf. It’s an outdoor sport. It’s never going to be the same.”

Law, who shot 70, emphasized the fact that it’s a major, and as such, every effort should’ve been made to get in 72 holes.

“There’s no doubt it wasn’t fair,” she said. “It’s whether you believe golf is a fair game or not. Sometimes you get the unlucky side of the draw.”

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