Another stunning and controversial finish to an American national championship has left Brittany Lang the US Women’s Open champion.
Lang beat good friend Anna Nordqvist by three shots in a three-hole aggregate playoff after they’d been locked at six under par after regulation play.
But the real drama came on the second playoff hole when Nordqvist grounded her five-iron as she prepared to play her second shot from a fairway bunker.
After the dramas of last month’s men’s US Open when eventual champion Dustin Johnson was informed on the 12th tee that he was under review for a possible rules infraction but not informed until after his round, the timing of today’s decision created even more controversy.
Both Lang and Nordqvist thought they had parred the first two playoff holes and the Swede had just played her third to the par-five 18th hole when she was told.
Many grumbled afterwards that officials should have delayed the information until after Lang had played her third shot, which the American seemed to alter before she played.
“We got the information out to the players as soon as we could,” the USGA said in a statement afterwards.
On the green, Lang two-putted to complete an even-par playoff while Nordqvist — no doubt affected by the news — missed a short par putt to make bogey and officially finish three over for the playoff.
“It's just hard to lose that way,” a visibly and understandably frustrated Nordqvist said coming off the 18th.
It's Lang's first major championship. She was tied for second at the U.S. Women's Open in 2005 at Cherry Hills and alone in second at the 2011 Women's British Open.
“It was definitely a shame for Anna for it to come down to something like that,” Lang said.
“I'm ecstatic, I feel for her, but definitely it took a little bit of pressure off me.”
Australian legend Karrie Webb closed with a 74 to finish the tournament at five over, tied 46th alongside countrywoman Minjee Lee.
World No. 1 Lydia Ko, who started the final round with a one-shot lead, had a rough patch in the middle of her round and finished in a four-way tie for third at four under after a 75.
Nordqvist made a lot of new fans later on social media when she posted a photo of her giving the thumbs up.
“Proud of myself for the way I played this week. It wasn’t meant to happen,” she wrote.
“It’s blowing 35-40 (miles per hour) out there and I had a 5-iron downhill lie in the bunker on 17.
“It was obviously not my intention to touch the sand, but it happened and life will go on.
“Congratulations to Brittany Lang for a great week of golf!!
“I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me – hey, I just finished second in the US Open.
“There will be plenty more opportunities in my career.”