McCulla sidesteps scoring dispute, shares first-round lead

Alex McCulla of Quincy chips up to #2 green in the boys 14-15 division. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
Michael Kipley1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 20, 2018 7:25 am Updated: Jun. 20, 2018 10:18 am

QUINCY -- Alex McCulla signed his scorecard and had playing partner Drake Hamilton sign it as well.

He figured his day was through.

Not quite yet, he was told.

McCulla, the Quincy Notre Dame sophomore, posted a 1-over 72 in the boys 14-15 division Tuesday during the first round of the Pepsi Little People's Golf Championships, which put him in a share of the lead. However, another player in the foursome -- Neel Soni of Winnipeg, Manitoba -- questioned whether McCulla should be assessed a penalty or possibly disqualified for a rules infraction.

About 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, lightning struck within an 8-mile radius of Westview Golf Course, forcing officials to sound the horn indicating a delay in play.

McCulla was in the fairway on the par-4 14th with about 120 yards to the green. He addressed his ball, and when the first horn sounded, he backed off.

"I said, 'Hey, can I play it?'" McCulla said. "My playing partner said yes."

So he stepped back to the ball. A second horn sounded while he was over the ball, and he went ahead and hit the shot. His ball landed safely on the green, about 20 feet from the pin, and he marked it before heading to the clubhouse for what ended up being a two-hour wait.

Not a word was said about a possible rules infraction until the round was over.

"He tried to call the penalty after the scorecards were turned in, which I don't even know if you can do that," McCulla said. "It was interesting."

A 20-minute debate ensued. Westview pro David Morgan consulted with LPGC executive director Nan Ryan, and the determination was made McCulla did not break any rules in the process of hitting the shot.

"It worked out," McCulla said. "No big deal."

The confusion occurred because of the number of horn blasts.

According to most interpretations of the rules of golf, an immediate stoppage of play is indicated by one long siren or horn. A stoppage in which players are allowed to finish a hole is usually indicated by three short sirens or horn blasts.

So McCulla's swing was determined not to be a breach of etiquette or a rules violation.

"It's all good," Morgan said. "We smoothed it out."

McCulla did the same thing after a rocky start to his round.

Starting on the front nine, he bogeyed Nos. 2 and 3 -- both are par-4s -- when he had one shot get away from him on each hole.

"Other than that, I didn't make any big mistakes," McCulla said.

He had 14 pars and a birdie after that.

"Pretty steady," McCulla said.

He shares the lead with Sean Minor of Columbia, Mo., while three others are within three strokes of the lead.

"With the wind conditions and rain, I didn't expect anyone to go really low," said McCulla, who didn't know where he was on the leaderboard before he left the course. "I figure three shots is within contention. That's where I wanted to be."

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