Sports Outside the Beltway

Honesty wins

Ryan Palmer still wins the Gin sur Mer after calling a penalty stroke on himself.

Palmer, who was at No. 143 on the money list with two tournaments remaining, had to call a penalty on himself and made bogey on the 10th hole, then took double bogey on the next hole with a tee shot into the water.

But he rebounded with a 10-foot birdie he desperately needed on the final hole at Ginn Ocean Hammock Resort for his second career victory.

“What a feeling … what a week,” said the 32-year-old native of Amarillo, Texas and Texas A&M graduate. “I kept grinding and grinding. I proved to myself that I can win out here under any kind of conditions or circumstances.”

Michael Letzig, the 54-hole leader, needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to force a playoff. But his wedge spun 35 feet down the slope and he had to settle for par and a 73 to finish one shot behind.

Also tying for second were George McNeill, Nicholas Thompson, Ken Duke and Vaughn Taylor, who was at No. 129 on the money list and earned enough to secure his card for next year.


Palmer appeared to have control with a two-shot lead until he reached the 10th green. He noticed his ball move slightly after he addressed his 30-foot birdie attempt, and after calling a rules official, assessed himself a one-shot penalty and made bogey.

“Once you address the ball, you can’t un-address it,” Tour rules official Steve Rintoul. “The rules are pretty clear.”

Palmer got rewarded with a victory. Tom Kite in 1978 lost a tournament by one shot after invoking the same rule on himself. In 2003, NBC golf announcers strongly believed a ball being addressed by Sophie Gustafson moved but the Swedish golfer didn’t call a penalty on herself. LPGA officials were then in the uncomfortable position of having to determine what happened. Sophie was the love squeeze of then LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw.(The two are now married.)

Sophie, who went on to win the tournament, said the golf ball didn’t move, her playing partner Juli Inkster hadn’t seen anything one way or the other, and the NBC video footage was equivocal. Sophie hasn’t won an LPGA event since. Is it a case of karma?

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