Teenage golfer praised for admitting scorecard error that cost team tournament

By James O'Connor

A teenage US golfer has been praised after admitting she submitted an incorrect scorecard - an error which cost her team victory at a prestigious tournament.

Kate Wynja was easing to victory at the State A Girls Golf Tournament in South Dakota, finishing the competition on +12, five strokes ahead of Payson Birkdale of Belle Fourche.

After Wynja submitted her card, and her Sioux Falls Christian teammates began to celebrate, the 18-year-old realised an error: she had marked a four on her scorecard for the 18th, when in fact she had a five.

“I knew I needed to tell them,” Wynja admitted. “ It was really sad, mostly because I knew what the result would be.

I knew that I would be disqualified and it broke my heart for the team. But I knew I couldn’t leave without saying something.

USGA rule 6-6 states that “the competitor should check his/her score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee. He/she must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the scorecard, sign the score card and return it to the Committee as soon as possible.”

A breach of that rule constitutes a disqualification.

The disqualification meant Birkeland of Belle Fourche (159, +17 overall) became the individual champion, while Belle Fourche (735) leapfrogged Sioux Falls Christian (747) to claim the team title.

Tournament director Dan Swartos had been following the final group for the last few holes, and neither he or the marker had realised that Wynja had marked her scorecard incorrectly, and had she not admitted to her mistake, the win would have been Wynja’s second consecutive individual Class A title.

“It was awful and I feel truly awful for her,” said Swartos. “ I have so much respect for Kate to come up and do that.

"I cannot say enough for that young lady and how much integrity that took, and how proud I am to have kids like that in South Dakota.”

There has been huge support for Wynja from teammates and competitors on social media, and speaking on the support she got, Wynja said: “That was a tough situation in general, (but) being surrounded by people who love me is awesome.”

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