124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

A rule Florida's Jessica Yadloczky won't soon forget

March 11, 2009

SORRENTO, FLA.--I'm not a betting man, but if I was I'd wager anyone an all-expenses paid trip to Bandon Dunes that Florida's Jessica Yadloczky will never forget Rule 18 for the rest of her life.

The sophomore from Caselberry, Fla., finished second yesterday at the UCF Challenge, one stroke behind UCLA freshman Stephanie Kono. During Sunday's opening round, however, Yadloczky received two penalty strokes on her second to last hole, Red Tail GC's par-4 eighth. Looking at a 40-foot birdie try, she put a mark behind her ball on the green as she tried to read the line of her putt, but didn't actually pick up her ball. In turn, a gust of wind proceeded to move the ball. Rather than play it from its new spot, Yadloczky picked up the ball and returned it to where her mark was, incurring a one-stoke penalty for moving her ball. When she putted, she got another one-stroke penalty for playing from the wrong spot (the Rules of Golf don't consider wind to be an outside agency, thus you are to play the ball as it lies rather than return the ball to its original position).

"I didn't think anything of it," said Yadloczky, who should have posted a course-record 64 but had to settle for a 66. "I thought you just replaced the ball where the mark was."

Not to pick on Yadloczky--who still broke her 54-hole career collegiate best by seven shots--but it's always a surprise when a player of her caliber (first-team All-SEC in 2008) isn't aware of a relatively common rule. Particularly too when her Gator coach, Jill Briles-Hinton, is among the best in the business at keeping her players on their toes regarding the rules of golf.

It looked like Yadloczky's mistake might be lost to posterity as she held a share of the lead even after shooting a final-round 73 for her seven-under 209 total. But Kono, who started the day in 12th place, made four birdies over the final seven holes, to shoot a 66 and steal away the title.

Kono's efforts also helped propel the Bruins to the team title, as UCLA shot a final-round 281 to easily make up its one-shot deficit on Arizona State entering the round and ultimately beat the Sun Devils by seven strokes.