Carlota Ciganda found out the hard way just how cruel golf's slow play rules can be

If Carlota Ciganda wasn’t familiar with golf’s slow play policy, she is now.

Ciganda had just beaten Sarah Schmelzel in the opening round of the LPGA Match Play. Or so she thought.

The 17th seed and Schmelzel, the 48th seed, were all-square on the par-5 finisher at Shadow Creek when the Spaniard rolled in a birdie for a 1-up victory.

But as they entered the scoring tent, the LPGA Tour told Ciganda, a four-time member of the European Solheim Cup team, she had been assessed a slow play penalty on the 18th for exceeding her allotted time for total strokes taken on the hole.

Rule 5.6a – Prompt Pace of Play – says “you should play at a prompt pace throughout the round, including the time taken to: Prepare for and make each stroke; move from one place to another between strokes; and move to the next teeing area after completing a hole.”

It meant that, under Rule 3.2a – Result of Hole and Match – Schmelzel was awarded the hole and victory.

A statement from the LPGA read: “On the 18th hole of her day one match, Carlota Ciganda was assessed a loss-of-hole penalty for a breach of the LPGA’s Match Play Pace of Play Policy.

“Per the policy, a player is subject to penalty if she exceeds the allotted time for her total strokes taken on a hole by more than 10 seconds, averaging 30 seconds per shot. Ciganda exceeded the allotted time for the number of strokes taken on the 18th hole.”

It follows a similar incident at last week’s PGA Championship, where John Catlin was hit with a slow-play penalty. But, because that is a stroke play event, the punishment was a one-stroke penalty.

Both Ciganda and Schmelzel went on to exit the competition, won by Ally Ewing, at the first stage.

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