Anna Davis' defense of her Augusta National Women's Amateur title got off to an inauspicious start at this year's event as the tournament opened on Thursday. Last year's winner shot an even-par 72 that turned into a 4-over 76 after she was penalized two strokes two times for lifting, cleaning and placing her ball incorrectly on the first hole.
Because of rain, the ANWA is playing lift, clean and place rules for the first two days of the event, but Davis incorrectly applied the rule and was penalized by tournament officials who released the following statement explaining the penalty.
Under Rule 9.4, Ms. Davis has been penalized two strokes for each occurrence of palying from a wrong place. Her score on hole 1 will be increased from 5 to 9.
"So preferred lies were only in the fairway today, and I learned that after the 1st hole," said Davis after her round. "On my first drive, I was in the rough, did my little thing. There's mud on it. My second shot in the rough, same thing. So that was a four-shot penalty right there. Little rough start to the day, but that's all right, it happens. It's a learning experience."
Davis said she asked the scorer in her group, who told her that lift, clean and place was being played everywhere.
"I knew we were playing lift, clean and place," said Davis. "I asked my scorer if we were doing it like everywhere, but I guess he didn't know. But he said, yeah, we were. So whatever. It happens."
Davis found out about the infraction on the fourth tee box and went on to make a double bogey on that hole. She bogeyed the next as well and, though she didn't know it officially at the time, was 7 over through five holes.
"If you look at my score on the 4th, you'll kind of see how that affected me," said Davis. "I mean, it happens. I was a little taken aback. I had a good round after that. I had a good round if you don't count the 1st hole."
She did have a good round after that with four birdies coming home to get it back to a respectable 4 over on the day.
The bump in score puts Davis just outside the top 30 on the leaderboard and in danger of missing the cut on Thursday. The top 30 make it to Augusta National on Saturday for the final round.
World No. 1 Rose Zhang leads the way after shooting a bogey-free 6-under 66.