Honda Tour report: Yang drives it home once again

Amy Yang conquered the field once again in Thailand, winning the Honda for a third time in five years.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Yang though and she was made to work for her one-shot victory by the chasing pack, most notably Carlota Ciganda and Minjee Lee, both of whom had a share of the lead at some point on Sunday.

Ciganda was the hottest player on the final day, carding an incredible 9-under-par.

There seemed to be no stopping her as she chipped in for eagle on 15, but she had left herself just too much to do in the final round.

Yang had a superb Sunday of her own, shooting 65, her best score of the week. That proved to be enough.

Let’s not underestimate how good this weekend’s golf has been, but as seems to be the case with the majority of golf in 2019, it’s rules controversy that takes the headlines. Speaking of which…

The backstopping controversy

The women’s game has so far done a pretty good job of staying out of the headlines for the wrong reasons.

However, this weekend, there were some accusations suggesting that Ariya Jutanugarn and Amy Olson had colluded to use backstopping on the 18th green.

So what is backstopping? There’s a pretty good explanation here but, in a nutshell, backstopping is when a player leaves their ball on the green, unmarked, while another player hits onto the green.

The ball can then act as a ‘backstop’ for the other shots being played onto the putting surface.

Should the balls collide, there is no penalty for either party as the ball originally on the green will be replaced and the second ball played onto the green will be played from its place of rest.

However, Rule 15.3a in the Rules of Golf does offer a ruling about backstopping.

It explains that if two or more players agree to leave a ball on the green in order to help the shot of another player, all players involved with the agreement will be issued with a two-shot penalty.

If a player is not aware that making such an agreement is forbidden, the penalty will still be applied.

Back to Thailand and on the 18th green during the second round, Jutanugarn had played her shot onto the green and began to walk up to mark it.

She looked over to her playing partner Olson who was ready to play her shot, so the ball was left. Olson chipped on and her ball hit Jutanugarn’s.

Olson would have seen her shot finish way past the pin had it not collided with Jutanugarn’s and stopped within a few feet.

The fact that the players agreed that Olson would play before the ball was marked sparked the debate of whether this was backstopping.

Here’s the incident so you can make your own mind up:

The LPGA decided that the pair were indeed playing in the way they did to maintain the pace of play and had not agreed to leave the World No. 1’s ball in place in order to help the next shot, which is what would have made this a breach of the rules.

Olson explained the situation ahead of the final round:

It’s safe to say it’s divided the golfing world and it won’t be going away in a hurry. Well, at least until we have our next rules controversy…

LET report: Skarpnord ends drought

Marianne Skarpnord claimed her fourth LET title, and first for six years, with victory at the Pacific Bay Resort Ladies Classic in Australia with a two-shot victory over Hannah Green and Nuria Iturrios.

The 33-year-old began the day one shot behind Madelene Sagstrom but a dramatic final-round of 3-under-par proved to be enough to grab top spot.

A largely solid back-nine closed out with two consecutive birdies helped the Norwegian see off several challengers, with the birdie putt at 17 a highlight.

The birdies at the final two holes become even more impressive when you consider that she bogeyed 16 and fell into a tie with Itturios.

There would be no answer to her blistering finish though, and her incredible drive at the 18th showed that she was not going to slip-up again.

At one point, there was a five-way share of the lead, but thanks to the great form and vast experience of Skarpnord the trophy is on its way home with her.

The victory perhaps should not come as a surprise as she has been one of the in-form players of 2019.

A 2nd-place finish at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in January and a victory on the ALPG to cement her spots in the Vic Open and Australian Ladies Open set her in good stead heading into this week at Bonville.

Any other business?

We recently chatted to LPGA star Brittany Lincicome and last week, she took to Twitter to make a pretty special announcement…

Congratulations from everyone at Lady Golfer!

Joe Hughes

Tour editor covering men's golf, women's golf and anything else that involves the word golf, really. The talk is far better than the game, but the work has begun to change that.

Handicap: 20

Subscribe to NCG