Marcel Siem’s 10-shot penalty foils bid to save Tour card at French Open

James Corrigan
The Telegraph
Marcel Siem learns that preferred lies are not in play on Thursday - 2019 Getty Images
Marcel Siem learns that preferred lies are not in play on Thursday - 2019 Getty Images

It was not quite the 58-shot penalty suffered by Lee Anne Walker at the Senior LPGA Championship, but Marcel Siem’s 10-shot infraction at the French Open on Thursday ensured this week would be remembered for eye-watering and scorecard-ruining sanctions.

It was a simple, honest mistake by the German at Le Golf National, but so had been Walker’s the previous day in Indiana.​

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Siem – a four-time winner on the European Tour who most memorably lifted the World Cup alongside Bernhard Langer in 2006 – believed the preferred lies rule was in operation on the soggy Ryder Cup layout and lifted, cleaned and replaced his ball on five fairways on the front nine.​

However, on the 10th tee, he was informed preferred lies were not applicable, meaning he had incurred a two-shot penalty for each violation. So, instead of being one over par, Siem, was in fact 11 over and, having arrived in Versailles desperate for a good finish to help him retain his card, that was more than the 39-year-old could stomach and he immediately walked in.​

And with the pacesetters – New Zealand’s Ryan Fox and South African George Coetzee on six under, that was probably a wise choice on behalf of a player ranked 794th in the world and without a top 10 in two years. “It was a little too much for me and I disqualified myself,” Siem wrote on Facebook. “I thought I owed you all the explanation.”​

In contrast, Walker almost revelled in the faux pas that took her way over par. The innocent transgression saw an 85 and 74 turned into a 127 and 90 respectively. “I may have made the Guinness Book of World Records,” Walker said on Thursday . “It was my fault for not knowing the rules.”​

In fairness to the 47-year-old, who is now working as an estate agent, she has not been on the LPGA Tour since 2008 and was not aware of the recent overhaul to the rule book that came into effect. Walker was alert to the necessity of taking penalty drops from knee level, but did not know about Rule 10.2b. This disallows caddies from standing behind the player as they prepare to hit a shot.​

Walker broke this rule on 21 occasions in the first round and eight times in the second round before her playing partners noticed on her 33rd hole. Without the penalties, Walker would have missed the cut by one shot, but as it turned out, they awarded her more publicity than the eventual winner, Helen Alfredsson from Sweden​

“What can you do at that point?” Walker said. “I wasn’t injured and wasn’t going to disqualify myself – that was my score, and everyone gets to see it. I had a great week, seeing everyone again. I’m glad I went.”​

Meanwhile, the LPGA and Ladies European Tour have confirmed they are in merger talks and are working to complete terms of a new agreement in time to present it to LET players at their annual meeting next month.

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