Solheim Cup controversy brings opponents Alison Lee, Hull to tears

September 21, 2015
United States' Alison Lee tees off in the singles matches on Day3 of the Golf Solheim Cup in St.Leon-Rot, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015.(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

United States’ Alison Lee tees off in the singles matches on Day 3 of the Solheim Cup in St.Leon-Rot, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

By Brian Han

It’s hardly a new concept for athletes to find ways to bend the rules just before they break for some kind of competitive advantage. Most of the time, these strategies end up slipping under the radar of spectators.

But on Sunday during the Solheim Cup held in Germany, it was hard to ignore the tears of Korean American rookie Alison Lee and her European opponent Charley Hull on the 17th green of St. Leon-Rot Golf Club.

Lee and her partner Brittany Lincicome trailed by a hole to Hull and her partner Suzann Pettersen during a nail-biting four-ball match. The American rookie hit her 8-foot birdie putt to 18 inches and thought she heard Hull verbally concede the hole and head toward the 18th tee box.

As is customary, Lee picked up her ball only to be called out by Pettersen who argued to officials that there was no concession. Because officials could not find evidence supporting Lee’s claim, the match ended right there on the green, but what followed was a somewhat telling sequence of events.

Lee broke out into tears after feeling manipulated into losing the match on a formality. More surprising was Hull who also began crying, which would not have been warranted unless she had feelings of guilt following the event.

The ruling stood, and the match was over. Europe led the U.S. with a comfortable 10-6 lead going into singles play.

The exchange left a bad taste in the mouths of players, captains and analysts alike.

Commentator and former European Solheim Cup player Laura Davies said during the broadcast that she was “disgusted” with how the match ended.

“We have got our best player, Charley Hull, who has just won a point and she’s in a flood of tears,” Davies continued on Sky Sports. “That tells you the wrong thing was done. I know [Pettersen] is angry and justifying everything, but she has let herself down, and she has certainly let her team down. I am so glad I am not on that team this time.”

“I have never seen anything like it in my career. It’s just not right,” U.S. captain Juli Inkster. “You just don’t do that to your peers. It’s disrespectful.”

Pettersen eventually apologized through her Instagram account saying that the fiasco left her feeling “truly sad” and “gutted.”

“To the fans of golf who watched the competition on TV, I am sorry for the way I carried myself,” Pettersen wrote on social media. “I can be so much better and being an ambassador for this great game means a lot to me. The Solheim Cup has been a huge part of my career. I wish I could change Sunday for many reasons. Unfortunately I can’t.”

By some kind of karmic turn of events, the U.S. made a roaring comeback during singles play and won the 2015 Solheim Cup by a full point to the tune of a 14.5 to 13.5 final score. Lee also went on to handily win her singles match against Gwladys Nocera of France.