Golf can be a heartbreaking sport — especially when you lose a possible ticket to the 2016 U.S. Open because of a penalty, as one South Korean teenager did on Tuesday. According to the Florida Times Union, Won Jun Lee, a 17-year-old who attends Tampa’s Saddlebrook Academy, was competing in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier when his playing partner accused him of breaking the rules. Without the two-stroke penalty that he incurred, Won Jun Lee would have shot a 66, enough to nab a spot in the playoffs at the sectional.
Tim Wilkinson, Lee’s playing partner and a PGA Tour member, said he called for an official after seeing Lee use his club to repair a pitch mark that his ball had left behind it. This is a violation of the USGA’s rule 13-2, about playing the ball as it lies: “A player must not improve or allow to be improved the position or lie of his ball, the area of his intended stance or swing…by any of the following actions: pressing a club on the ground.”
Wilkinson also said that Lee had broken the rule during the first round and earlier on in the second round, and that he had warned Lee that he was in danger of being penalized. “I wanted him to realize that you’ve got to respect the game. And it’s about the rest of the field,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson is a professional golfer from New Zealand — unlike the distraught Lee, he went on to qualify for Oakmont. This will be his first major.