In a surprising turn of events at the U.S. Women’s Open, Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, a promising rookie on the LPGA Tour, was disqualified midway through Round 1 at Pebble Beach. The disqualification came as a result of her caddie’s use of a rangefinder on multiple occasions, which violated the tournament rules and regulations.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) promptly released a statement addressing the incident, explaining that during the first round, Vongtaveelap’s caddie had used a distance-measuring device, which is strictly prohibited in the U.S. Women’s Open. As per the rules, the first breach incurs a general penalty, while the second breach results in disqualification.
Vongtaveelap, who had begun her round on the 10th hole, received the unfortunate news of her disqualification after completing the 14th hole. Until that point, she had been performing admirably, maintaining an even par for the day with a birdie and a bogey in her first five holes.
While rangefinders are typically allowed on the LPGA Tour, exceptions are made for major championships such as the U.S. Women’s Open and the AIG Women’s Open. This deviation from the usual rules caught Vongtaveelap and her caddie off guard, leading to their unfortunate disqualification from the tournament.
Interestingly, this incident is not an isolated case within the golfing world. Just last week, Zach Williams, a first-year professional, faced a similar fate during the Korn Ferry Tour’s Memorial Health Championship. Williams was also disqualified for using a rangefinder, further emphasizing the significance of strictly adhering to the specific rules of each tournament. It is worth noting that rangefinders are not allowed on the PGA Tour or Korn Ferry Tour either.
Reflecting on the situation, Williams took to social media to express his thoughts, tweeting, “I should have known, and it’s completely on me. Hard to swallow but you have to. I’ll be back in no time.” Despite the setback, the young golfer displayed resilience and determination, indicating his intention to return stronger in future competitions.
Vongtaveelap, a talented 20-year-old golfer from Thailand, was participating in her first U.S. Women’s Open. While she has achieved significant success on the Thai LPGA Tour, with five victories to her name, she is still striving for her first triumph on American soil. Previously, she secured a second-place finish in the Honda LPGA Thailand and followed it up with another top-10 finish in the subsequent week. However, she has encountered difficulties in maintaining her form and has not achieved a top-25 finish since then.
In conclusion, Natthakritta Vongtaveelap’s journey at the U.S. Women’s Open came to an abrupt end due to her caddie’s violation of tournament regulations involving the use of a rangefinder. This unfortunate incident underscores the importance of players and caddies familiarizing themselves with the specific rules of each tournament, particularly major championships. As Vongtaveelap continues her golfing career, she remains determined to achieve success on the international stage and learn from this experience.
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