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Maria Fassi furious after receiving slow-play penalty that cost her making Women's PGA cut

June 25, 2021

Maria Fassi lines up a putt on the 14th hole during the second round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

Kevin C. Cox

Maria Fassi arrived Friday at Atlanta Athletic Club sitting two under par heading into the second round and excited to continue progressing after knee surgery slowed down her difficult 2021 season by sidelining her for six weeks. After making one cut in seven starts on the year, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship provided a major opportunity for the sponsor's invite to the event to turn her season around.

Instead, a slow-play penalty on the 18th (Fassi's ninth hole of the day) stalled that momentum. Per rule 5.6b(3), the two-stroke penalty knocked Fassi to a second-round 77, and at three over she missed the weekend cut in the LPGA Tour major by one shot.

“Pretty frustrating,” Fassi, 23, said. “One of the players in our group was pretty slow. I'm not going to be pointing fingers. I did go over time, and I guess that's the penalty. It's also common sense, in my opinion.”

It’s the first time Fassi, who finished runner-up to Jennifer Kupcho in the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur in 2019, received a slow-play penalty. She expressed after her round that she wished her groupmates In Gee Chun and Ayako Uehara would’ve backed her up. She cried after the hole from frustration.

“I guess it's a lesson learned,” Fassi said. “It won't happen again, that's for sure.”

On the reachable par-5 18th, Fassi was between clubs on her 180-yard second shot and deliberated with caddie Mark Wallington on what to do. The wind sat between helping and hurting, and they needed to ensure she covered the water 167 yards out. She took 50 seconds, 20 more than the 30 allowed. Fassi was told after the hole, on which she made birdie, about the penalty and had nine more to play.

"It definitely messed up my whole back nine," Fassi, who made four bogeys and shot 39 on her back, later told Golf Digest. "I had tears in my eyes for the next three holes that I played."

Fassi attempted to contest the ruling in the scoring area.

"[The rules official] just kept saying that [she went 20 seconds over time] over and over again,” Fassi explained. “So it was worthless, honestly, to keep arguing.”

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship issued this statement after Fassi’s round Friday.

Maria Fassi, from Mexico, received a two-stroke penalty for a breach of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Pace of Play Policy during the second round of the 67th KPMG Women’s PGA Championship ...

Fassi was in breach of Rule 5.6 while being timed by a member of the Rules Committee. She exceeded the average amount of allotted time for the total strokes taken on Hole #18.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Rules Committee has adopted a Pace of Play Policy under Rule 5.6b(3)of the Rules of Golf to encourage and enforce prompt play.”

Fassi joins Carlota Ciganda in getting slow-play penalties on the 18th hole this season in LPGA events. The Spaniard lost her match against Sarah Schmelzel on the opening day of the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play in May after initially winning the 18th due to the penalty. Yealimi Noh also received a $10,000 fine at the Kia Classic for slow play.

"I’m coming back from a not-so-good start from the knee injury, there’s just a lot that’s happened this year and I’m just trying my best to make it be better and to kind of overcome all that’s happened," Fassi said. "I felt like I was doing that today and yesterday. I felt like my game was in a better place, my head was in the right place, I mean it just sucks. It just really, I mean it tore me to pieces on the back nine."