Nasa Hataoka disqualified for exceeding time

Since the rule changed (Rule 18.2a 1) in 2019, reducing the time allowed for searching for a ball from 5 minutes to just 3, there have been instances, especially among amateur players, where the rule has been abused

by Andrea Gussoni
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Nasa Hataoka disqualified for exceeding time
© Getty Images Sport - Chuck Burton / Stringer

The Japanese golfer Nasa Hataoka was disqualified on Saturday at the conclusion of the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic. The referees reproached her for taking too long to find her ball on her last hole, thus signing an incorrect scorecard.

Since the rule changed (Rule 18.2a 1) in 2019, reducing the time allowed for searching for a ball from 5 minutes to just 3, there have been instances, especially among amateur players, where the rule has been abused. Three minutes can pass quickly when desperately trying to locate a lost ball.

Nasa Hataoka, results

Among professionals, incidents regarding this rule are less common as searches are usually timed by the player, caddie, or referee. During the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Nasa Hataoka, a six-time winner on the American circuit, saw her tournament end due to a breach of this rule.

Approaching the final hole, the par 5 9th hole, her second shot took a bad bounce and ended up in the tall grass near the green. With the help of about a dozen people, Hataoka eventually found her ball, declared it unplayable, took a drop in the presence of a referee, and saved par.

However, officials later reviewed the footage and determined that the player had found her ball after... 4 minutes. They disqualified Hataoka, who had already signed and submitted her scorecard. Interestingly, the referee who assisted her with the penalty drop did not inform her of the time elapsed.

Here is the statement released by the tournament and the referees: "During the first round of the LPGA Shoprite Classic, Nasa Hataoka played her second shot on the 9th hole into the long fescue surrounding the green, her last hole of the day.

After reviewing video footage provided to the LPGA following her round, it was determined that the search for the ball lasted longer than the three minutes allowed by Rule 18.2a. After three minutes of search, the ball is considered lost, and the player must proceed according to stroke and distance (Rule 18.2b).

Hataoka's ball was eventually found after the search time had expired. Therefore, Hataoka played from the wrong place (Rule 14.7). Because the place from which she played could give the player a significant advantage over playing from the correct place, this is considered a serious breach of Rule 14.7 with a penalty of disqualification if not corrected in time." While the rule was applied strictly, some may find it surprising that the video review was conducted after the scorecard had been signed. Although Nasa Hataoka broke a rule, her disqualification may be seen as harsh.

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