High school golfer self-reports violation, costs herself state title

A South Dakota golfer displayed remarkable honesty and cost herself a state title. (Getty)
A South Dakota golfer displayed remarkable honesty and cost herself a state title. (Getty)

In a remarkable display of honesty, a South Dakota high school golfer has self-reported a violation of the rules of golf, even though it cost both her and her team a state title.

Kate Wynja of Sioux Falls Christian had dominated the field at South Dakota’s Class A golf meet, winning by multiple strokes. But as other players began recording their scores, Wynja came to a wrenching realization: she had marked herself down for a 4 instead of a 5 on the 18th hole. That meant, under the rules of golf, that she would be disqualified. She’d lose the state title, and Sioux Falls Christian would drop from first to second place, losing out on its first state title since 2011.

Making the burden all the more difficult: Wynja had to report it herself. No one flagged the error. No one else noticed but her. Wynja told her coach, and the two took the news to tournament directors.

“I knew I needed to tell them,” Wynja told the Argus Leader. “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.”

Tournament officials tried to find any room for interpretation, but the rules of golf are clear: sign for the wrong scorecard, get disqualified.

Payson Birkeland, who was elevated into the top spot, broke down crying when she heard the news. “I was heartbroken,” she said. “You don’t wish that one anyone, so hats off to her for being able to admit her mistake… That’s not how you want to win, but it’s humbling for everyone to learn from that situation.”

Bad as this was, it could have been worse. Roberto di Vicenzo lost the Masters by signing a wrong scorecard in 1968. Now that’s something you don’t ever live down.
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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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