SEOUL (Reuters) - A top Korean golf official resigned on Friday after a rules controversy at a domestic tournament saw penalties issued then rescinded, players threaten to withdraw, and all first-round scores at the KB Financial Star Championship scrubbed.
The Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) issued an apology over the incident and said it had arisen because it was difficult for players to distinguish between the green and the fringe at several holes on the Black Stone Golf Club in Ichon.
Choi Hye-jin and Park You-na were hit with two-shot penalties following Thursday’s opening round after marking their ball and picking it up, believing they were on the putting surface when in fact they were just off the green.
Choi had been the co-leader on six-under-par before her penalty was assessed.
However, The KLPGA later discovered that four other players had committed the same offense.
“The committee discussed the matter and decided to rescind the penalties issued to Choi Hye-jin and Park You-na and decided not to impose penalties on the four other players,” a KLPGA official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.
The decision to backtrack on the penalties sparked an outcry from the rest of the field.
A players’ meeting went on until late on Thursday to discuss the issue, with some players threatening to quit if the penalties were wiped and others saying they would walk if they were enforced, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.
The governing KLPGA discussed the issue with players again early on Friday and eventually decided to scrub all the scores from the first round.
“We deeply apologize to players, golf fans and sponsors who helped organize the tournament,” the KLPGA said in a statement.
“We will do better to meet the expectations of those who love the KLPGA and will do our best to prevent similar cases from happening again.”
The KLPGA confirmed that leading rules official Choi Jin-ha had resigned over the matter.
Additional reporting by Yuna Park; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty