Jutanugarn opted not to mark her ball, then Olson's chip—which was racing by—hit the ball and stopped within three feet.
Man, golf just can't seem to stay out of its own way recently.
We have yet another point of controversy in a season that's been riddled with them. We've had greens destroyed, caddies stiffed, bogus penalties levied and now perhaps the most egregious example of backstopping yet.
During the second round of the Honda LPGA Thailand, world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn played a nice pitch on the par-5 18th to about three feet. Her playing partner, Amy Olson, was off the green to the right. Jutanugarn appeared to look toward Olson, ostensibly to see if she wanted the ball marked, but opted to leave the ball by the hole. Olson then played a chip that would have run at least 12 feet by, but it struck Jutanugarn's ball and stopped about two feet from the cup (and Jutanugarn gets to replace her ball back to where it was before it was struck).
The optics were made even worse when Olson and Jutanugarn fist-bumped after the ordeal.
The practice of leaving a ball on the green close to hole when another player is chipping, known as backstopping, has been a point of debate since Jimmy Walker admitted to the practice last summer.
Usually a guy will ask if he would like to mark it. If you don’t like a guy you will mark anyway. If you like the guy you might leave it to help on a shot. Some guys don’t want to give help at all and rush to mark their ball. To each his own.— Jimmy Walker (@JimmyWalkerPGA) June 9, 2018
There is no rule that mandates a player mark his or her ball while another player is hitting from off the green. However, general etiquette dictates that, in stroke play, all players have a responsibility to protect the rest of the field, most of whom will not have the luxury of having a backstop. Moreover, it is illegal (under Rule 15.3a) for players to agree to leave a ball unmarked for the purpose of assisting one player.
Olson, who did make the short birdie putt, was in a tie for fifth after the second round, just two back of the leaders. Jutanugarn was two shots further back in a tie for ninth.