SAN MARTIN, Calif. — Eleven years after finishing as runnerup as an amateur in her first U.S. Women's Open, Brittany Lang won her first major title — with help from a playoff penalty on Anna Nordqvist.
Lang made par on all three holes of the aggregate playoff and Nordqvist was given a two-stroke penalty for touching the sand with her club in a fairway bunker on the second playoff hole Sunday, helping deliver Lang the title.
The players were not told of the penalty until they were in the middle of playing the final hole after officials reviewed a Fox video in the latest controversy at a USGA event. Lang sealed the win with a short par putt on the final playoff hole, while Nordqvist made bogey to lose by three.
"It was definitely a shame for Anna for it to come down to something like that," Lang said. "You never want it to be because of a penalty but to be because of better play.
"I am ecstatic. I feel for her but definitely it (the penalty) took a little bit of pressure off me. I can't believe it. It means absolutely everything. This is what you dream of. It's amazing."
The weird ending — which included USGA president Diana Murphy calling Lang "Bethany" during the trophy presentation — marred a day in which Nordqvist played brilliantly, closing with 67 to come from six strokes back. Lang's closing 71 left them tied at 6-under 282, two strokes ahead of third-round leader Lydia Ko (75), Amy Yang (73), Sung Hyun Park (74) and Eun Hee Ji (74).
At last month's men's U.S. Open, eventual winner Dustin Johnson played much of the final round not knowing if he would be penalized one stroke because his ball moved as he addressed it on the fifth green. The penalty ended up proving moot as Johnson won by three shots.
Lang and Nordqvist both made pars on the first hole of the playoff, which was played on the final three holes of the course. Things got interesting on the next hole after Nordqvist hit her tee shot into a fairway bunker.
While preparing to hit the shot, Nordqvist's club barely touched the sand. She did not realize it and both players made par.
According to John Bodenhamer, the USGA's senior managing director for rules, competitions and equipment, the USGA did not see a violation during its initial review of the footage and thus saw no need to stop play. But after Fox, which broadcast the tournament, notified USGA officials, they saw the more clear replay that showed the penalty.
An official told Nordqvist about the penalty after she hit her third shot on the 18th hole but before Lang hit hers.
"I couldn't really believe that it happened," Nordqvist said. "It wasn't my intention to ground the club. It's blowing 35, 40 out there, and I had a 5-iron off a downhill lie in the bunker. It's been a long day, a long week. So probably misjudged it a little bit and touched a little bit of sand and that is a penalty. …
"I just wish they would have told me a little earlier. They told me after I hit my third shot. It might not have changed anything, but I just wish it was a little bit earlier."
Ultimately, she took the high road.
"I don't think anyone should feel sorry for me," she said. "I'm still going to wake up (today)."
CHAMPIONS: Paul Goydos shot bogey-free 69 to win the Dick's Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, N.Y. A birdie at the 17th hole gave Goydos a two-shot victory over Wes Short (69) as he finished at 14-under 202 for his third victory on tour. Second-round leader John Riegger (72) finished tied for fourth at 10 under with Joe Durant (68).
OLYMPICS: Rickie Fowler took to Twitter to say he's going to the Rio Games, and Patrick Reed confirmed at the Scottish Open that he will join his fellow American.