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Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Finals Get Interesting

By now you've heard what happened in the semifinal match between Azahara Munoz and Morgan Pressel. Quick recap: Morgan won hole #12 to go 3up. However, the officials met the pair on the 13th tee and told Morgan she had been assessed a slow play penalty. As a result, Morgan lost the hole and suddenly dropped from 3up to only 1 up. (It took me a moment to process that too. Morgan was 2up on the 12th tee and Aza won the 12th because of the penalty, so that left Morgan only 1up.)

Then, on the 15th hole Morgan said Aza touched her line during a practice stroke. Jerry Foltz noted that while practice strokes over the line of your putt aren't unusual, he also said that Aza gets very close to the ground when she does it. The rules officials looked at the tape and decided the evidence was inconclusive -- meaning Aza wasn't penalized -- but warned Aza to be careful. Aza then won the 15th, 16th, and 17th to take the match 2&1.

The GC commentators believe the slow play ruling will be somewhat controversial because it had the effect of penalizing Morgan 2 holes. I'm not so sure that's the case. It just looks like Morgan went from 3up to 1up when in fact she only went from 2up to 1up. (She never got to 3up because the penalty was loss of hole, regardless of what she scored on it.) Hopefully that will become more clear as the match gets more discussion in the media.

But here's what I think makes this interesting. Added to the fact that these two are good friends -- assuming this bizarre turn of events doesn't cause permanent damage to their friendship -- I think the finals just became a whole new ballgame.

How much will this carry over into Munoz's afternoon match against Candie Kung? Aza was in tears after the semifinal match. I have trouble believing that it won't have some effect on her play in the finals.

The same goes for Morgan. She has a consolation match against Vicky Hurst and, despite how well she seemed to handle it, everybody knows Morgan can be very emotional.

Morgan didn't talk after the match but Aza, despite her tears, said she didn't believe this would hurt their friendship. They would give their emotions a chance to cool down and then talk about it.

I suspect their friendship will be ok. Things like this happen in professional sports and if you don't learn to deal with it, you don't have any friends. But those afternoon matches might not play out the same way now.

UPDATE: Apparently the two got together briefly before the afternoon matches and at least made sure their friendship was intact. A smart move on their part -- both professionally and personally.

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