Blowback over a potential cheating scandal on the LPGA’s Canadian Open has prompted the tour to look further into an uncomfortable scenario this week involving two South Korean players.
Playing partners Shi-Hyun Ahn and Il Mi Chung were disqualified this week for hitting the wrong ball on the final hole, then signing scorecards attesting to incorrect scores.
Which is where the whole scenario doesn’t pass the smell test. According to unconfirmed reports, Ahn and Chung both hit the 18th fairway, knew on the final green that they had hit each other’s ball on their respective approach shots by mistake, and conspired to keep it a secret until one of the caddies in the group threatened to come forward.
After reportedly engaging in a conversation in Korean on the green, the two players signed their cards. Then the pair sought out a rules official and they were disqualified. Ahn is ranked No. 99 in the world and Chung is 169th.
According to one report, the caddie for the third member of the group was prepared to discuss what happened with Ahn and Chung with tour officials, and only then did pair tell LPGA rules officials what had happened, resulting in a no-brainer double disqualification.
Initially, the LPGA seemed satisfied with the player actions and sanctions.
"No one with the LPGA was privy to any discussions between the players and caddies in advance of the players’ efforts to seek out a rules official to explain the situation,” a spokesman said Saturday. “We know only that the players came forward, admitted their issue and received the appropriate result based on the rules of golf.”
However, that stance has clearly changed.
LPGA communications chief David Higdon confirmed Sunday morning to CBSSports.com that the tour intends to interview all the parties involved and then mull a possible course of action.
“We have treated this situation very seriously, and have or will speak to all principles involved,” Higdon said in an email Sunday morning. “Yes, we are looking very closely at it.”
The LPGA has had issues in the past with South Korean natives, who have been accused by other players of bending rules by conversing with friends or parents and receiving advice in their native tongue, among other perceived violations. The LPGA at one point put players on notice that such conversations and interaction would not be tolerated. One longtime LPGA caddie with his own blog site claimed this weekend that Korean players have been getting away with rules violations for years, causing some to accuse him of racism.