Ciganda and partner Suzann Pettersen both hit their second shots into a lateral hazard right of the par-5 15th. A lengthy discussion ensued with rules officials not only to locate the balls, but decide where a proper drop should be taken.
Crowds chanted their complaints and American opponents Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson grew impatient as officials paced around the area. European captain Liselotte Neumann was on hand, and American captain Meg Mallon arrived several minutes later. All told, the ruling took about 25 minutes.
Ciganda hit her fourth shot onto the fringe and made the par putt to secure an unexpected halve with Lewis and Thompson.In the end, Ciganda received an incorrect ruling from a member of the Solheim Cup Rules Committee. As the official in charge later explained, the point where Ciganda’s ball crossed the margin of the hazard was accurately established. Among Ciganda’s options was to drop on the opposite margin of the hazard equidistant from the hole, another point that was accurately established. However, Ciganda should have dropped within two club lengths from that point. Instead, she was allowed to take her ball back about 40 yards, keeping that point on line with the flagstick.
“Obviously I’m not happy about it,” Mallon said. “The thing I’m most unhappy about is that it took ... about 25 minutes for this to happen. And from our perspective, the momentum, which was coming in our favor at that point in time, obviously had stopped.”
Questions were posed at the time of the drop, Mallon said, but perhaps not the right ones. Play proceeded, and Pettersen birdied the next hole to take the Europeans 1 up. They won by that margin at the 18th, when Pettersen made a clutch two-putt par.
“I wanted the reasoning behind it, but the explanation did not make it more clear to me,” Lewis said of the ruling. “It actually made me have more questions.”
By the time that first group completed the 15th hole, three groups were stacked there. Europeans Caroline Masson and Caroline Hedwall, 1 up at the 15th, won their match while Americans Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang took the third match, 4 and 3. The Americans halved the afternoon with the Europeans, and trail 5-3 after Day 1.
“If you know anything in sports, you know momentum is everything,” Mallon said.
The ruling will stand because it was given to Ciganda incorrectly. As Mallon said, it’s now a moot point.
Despite halving the 15th, it was among the parts of Ciganda’s Solheim Cup debut that seemed like they couldn’t have gone any worse.
“It was very stressful at the time,” Ciganda said of the early holes, where she struggled to contribute.
As for the Americans, Mallon knows she may have to go home and help Lewis with a rally – if she hasn’t already rallied herself.
“As far as moving on, the good thing is we are only two points down and, if anything, this just gives everyone more motivation,” Lewis said