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.
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.”
Obviously today didn't go as planned, but God has a plan and uses tough situations for his glory. Blessed with the ability to play golf and play for the glory of God :) thanks for the all the love and support.— Kate Wynja (@KateWynja) June 6, 2018
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.”
.@KateWynja's honesty and integrity is worth more than the award or plaque the SDHSAA would have given her for the victory. She should be revered, and nobody should take anything away from her.https://t.co/nmaUKYyZZa— Jerry Palleschi (@RealJerryP) June 6, 2018
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.”
Kate Wynja will always be my champ - I can not express enough over how much of a role model and just a great person she is... so much love for her !!❤️❤️ https://t.co/puk4dL2vZ1— Lauryn Driscoll (@LaurynLaurynd) June 5, 2018
What an incredible example of character... My heart breaks for her, but this girl is going much further in life than just a state golf title https://t.co/dvGVGvYGAi— Caitlin Way (@C_dub90) June 6, 2018
@KateWynja is the epitome of integrity, class, and great (not good) sportsmanship! As a father and Christian, it warmed my heart to read of Kate's actions, which say more about her than winning, even though she ultimately was disqualified. Read about it: https://t.co/6WaqElIohx— Mario Valencia (@ValenciaLaw02) June 6, 2018