Golf Digest Woman
March 29, 2010

Wie's $260,000 mistakes

The 714-page Rules book is a hard one to swallow. But there are a handful of rules that all golfers should etch to memory, and not grounding your club in a hazard (Rule 13-4b) is one of them.

Michelle Wie claims she understands this rule, but how many times can one golfer cough up the "I'm an innocent victim" response after being penalized by an official?

Wie was on the par-5 11th hole when she hit her ball in hazard near the edge of the water. She splashed out, and after seeing that the ball advanced just a few feet and didn't escape the hazard, she grounded her club by her left foot. She finished the hole thinking she saved an amazing par, only to be told that she had been penalized for breaking Rule 13-4b.

What ensued after the round was a heated debate. While footage of the incident indicates that she deserved the two-stroke penalty, Wie claimed she was using the club to regain her balance and therefore should not incur the penalty.

"I know what it looks like, but it was a really slippery spot," Wie told the officials after her round. "It seems really unfair because I know I was off balance."

Wie added: "You were not me, and you can't give me a penalty for what it looks like. You don't know for a fact that I was not off balance."

Had Wie not been penalized, she would have finished in a tie for second place, not sixth. That drop equates to about $91,000 in prize money.

This isn't Wie's first rules faux pas. Let's tally up what the other infractions have cost her:

-2005 Samsung World Championship: This was Wie's first tournament as a professional, and she inadvertently dropped the ball closer to the hole while taking relief. That inch or two cost her a cool $53,126.

-2006 Women's British Open: Wie was in greenside bunker during the second round and hit a piece of moss behind her ball during her backswing. That deducted two strokes from her score, which amounted to about $4,000 and lots of lost momentum heading into the weekend.

-2008 LPGA State Farm Classic: In my opinion, this infraction it the most mind-boggling of all. After an amazing 67 and a third-place finish, Wie was disqualified for not signing her scorecard after the second round. This DQ cost her $113,169.

Total setback? About $261,295. That kind of money could help you buy several tall stacks of Rules books.

--Ashley Mayo