Rain Suspends Play On Day One of NCAA Golf
Hokies finish first round with a 291
May 29, 2002

COLUMBUS, Oh. - Weather and a controversial back-nine were topics on the course during the first day of the NCAA Golf Championship on Wednesday at the OSU Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio. The opening round was suspended at 4:45 p.m. due to rain and thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon and the first round will be completed Thursday morning prior to the scheduled second round.

The Hokies completed the first round with a seven-over-par, 291. A ruling by a member of the NCAA Rules Committee cost Tech two strokes during the back-nine for the Hokies.

Senior Johnson Wagner (Garrison, N.Y.) hit his second shot on the par-four10th hole over the green and the ball came to rest against a railroad tie bordering the cart path. Knowing the rules and the fact that he was probably entitled to relief, he called a rules official, who denied relief.

Left with the only option of taking an unplayable lie and going back to the point in the fairway where he originally hit the second shot, he did so and was on the green in four after taking a one stroke penalty.

As he was about to putt for a bogey-five, the official came back to him and told him that he (the official) had made an incorrect ruling and Wagner was entitled to free relief. The official then instructed Wagner to pick the ball up off the green and go to where the second shot came to rest and gave him a free drop under the obstruction rule. Wagner hit his shot on the green and made the putt for par-four.

As Wagner came off the 18th green, he was instructed by a member of rules committee not to sign his scorecard because of a question about the ruling the rules official had made on the 10th hole.

The ruling was that the official had made an incorrect ruling and Wagner was forced to count all strokes on the 10th hole, for a double-bogey six.

Tech head coach Jay Hardwick appealed to the NCAA golf committee who, in turn, appealed to the USGA rules committee. The USGA ruled that there is nothing in the rules of golf to waive an incorrect ruling by an official. All parties admitted that two mistakes had been made, but that there is no remedy for the mistakes.

"We got off to a great start due to McKeel's good play early," Hardwick said. "But we just did not play well on the back nine. We lost a few shots in the rain and just didn't finish well. Consequently, its going to take an awfully good round tomorrow to get back in contention."

Junior Chris McKeel (Wilson, N.C.) leads the Hokies with a one-under-par 70, good for a tie for 21st place. Sophomore Ryan Stinnett (Amherst, Va.) is tied for 44th place after an even-par 71. Junior Brendon de Jonge (Harare, Zimbabwe) is tied for 110th place with a 74. Wagner and senior Brian Krusoe (Northfield, Oh.) are tied for 146th after five-over-par 76s.

"We have to put the ruling behind us, and we will, and get ready for tomorrow," Hardwick said. "We started well today and were under-par, so we know we have the ability to do it again."

At the time of suspension, Illinois leads the tournament at nine-under-par. Tech was tied with Texas for 22nd place. Tech is one of 15 schools to complete the first round.

Starting times for the second round will be set following the completion of the first round. Tech was scheduled for a 12:45 p.m. tee time. Follow all the action live on the link from www.hokiesports.com.