MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -– Kayla Parsons, who at 10 years old was believed to be the youngest participant ever to play the Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship, was disqualified Tuesday for shooting scores that were inconsistent with her handicap.
A 30 handicap for the tournament, she had shot a second-round 88 at Possum Trot and was leading her otherwise tightly bunched flight by 18 strokes.
“I don’t look at scores, I look at differentials, and I’d never seen differentials like hers,” said tournament director Dave Macpherson.
Ed Parsons, Kayla’s father, said she was initially devastated by the news but that she would play the remaining two rounds of the tournament despite being ineligible for prizes.
“She’d been working hard on the range with her coach every day, but not playing and posting scores,” he said. “And she said she’d never played a course this easy before. Her home course is more difficult.” Players are routinely disqualified from the World Am, where a committee scrutinizes handicaps 24/7 in order to protect the field from men and women (and children) whose stated handicap is too high for their ability. A few of them are so-called “sandbaggers,” who misrepresent their playing ability, but others are believed to have made a far more innocent mistake, that of improving too quickly without posting enough scores in the weeks leading up to the tournament.
Bill Golden, president of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, said it seemed clear that Parsons fell into the latter category, but he and Macpherson stressed that the handicap committee had no choice. The USGA publishes a small table entitled “Odds of Shooting an Exceptional Tournament Score,” and Kayla’s performance, they said, was literally off the chart.