Ahn's penalty in bunker costs her Open lead

Sun Ju Ahn hits her third shot at the par-5 18th during the third round of the 2014 Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England. Ahn was given a two-shot penalty after building her stance on this shot from the bunker.

SOUTHPORT, England – Korea’s Sun-Ju Ahn got a harsh lesson in the intricacies of Rule 13-3, Building Stance, in the third round of the $3 million Ricoh Women’s British Open.

It could cost her a chance to win her first major championship.

Ahn had a one-shot lead over Inbee Park when she stepped into a greenside bunker on Royal Birkdale’s 18th hole. By the time she left the 18th green, she was one behind Park.

The 26-year-old Ahn violated Rule 13-3, in particularly Decision 13-3/3, Knocking Down Side of Bunker to Get Level Stance. She spent a lot of time trying to get a level footing in the bunker, raking back too much sand with her left foot.

Ladies Golf Union officials decided Ahn was in breach of 13-3 and handed her a two-shot penalty. What she thought was a par on the final hole turned into a double-bogey 7 – resulting in a closing 71 instead of a 69. It left her on 3 under par for the championship.

“The ball was placed on a very upslope lie, so it was hard to make a stance,” Ahn said through an interpreter. “What I was trying to do was fix a stance, but it was determined that I used my feet to try to make an even lie.

“My intent wasn’t to break the rules. It was just to set my feet firm in the sand just to be able to make the shot.”

To her credit, Ahn was magnanimous about the ruling.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s my mistake,” said the South Korean and member of the JLPGA. “I have to follow the rules of the game.

“I’m surprised by it, but if that’s the rule I just have to abide by it and just refocus. It would be unfair for me to say it’s unfair.”

Ladies Golf Union officials witnessed Ahn moving excessive sand in the bunker, and reviewed videotape of the incident with the player before she signed her scorecard.

“Rule 13-3 states that a player is entitled to place her feet firmly in taking her stance, but she must not build a stance,” LGU tournament director Susan Simpson said. “In the bunker she moved the sand with her feet and breached this rule.”

Ahn is still in position to win her first major championship if she can get over the rules mishap.

“I’ll have to sleep over it and find out tomorrow morning whether it’s going to motivate me or not,” she said. “All I can do is my best. I know I’m not that far off. I’m still in the game, so we’ll have to see tomorrow.”

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