Nasa Hataoka’s controversial DQ at 2024 ShopRite LPGA could cost her a spot in the Paris Olympics

Nasa Hataoka’s gut-wrenching disqualification from the ShopRite LPGA Classic didn’t just cost her a paycheck and chance at a title. It could cost the Japanese star a spot in the Paris Olympics, too.

The ordeal began on during the first round on Friday, when Hataoka arrived at her final hole of the day, the par-5 ninth, at 6 under. After hitting her second shot into the tall fescue right of the green, at least a dozen people got involved in the search for Hataoka’s ball.

Eventually, Hataoka later noted, it was a cameraman found the ball, and she called over a rules official to go about taking an unplayable lie.

Golf Channel’s Tom Abbott, who was involved in the search, noted his concerns on air about the search having potentially taken more than three minutes, which is the maximum amount of time players can spend looking for their ball, according to Rule 18.2.

Hataoka proceeded to get up and down for par, draining a 15-footer for 65 over the Bay Course at Seaview Resort.

It wasn’t until the next day that Hataoka was informed that she’d been disqualified from the ShopRite after LPGA officials reviewed videotape footage.

The LPGA released a statement on the DQ:

During the first round of the LPGA Shoprite Classic, Nasa Hataoka played her second shot on No. 9 into the long fescue surrounding the green, her last hole of the day. After reviewing video footage provided to the LPGA following the round, it was determined that the search for Nasa’s ball lasted longer than the three minutes allowed under Rule 18.2a.  After three minutes of search, the ball is considered lost, and the player must proceed under stroke and distance (Rule 18.2b).

Hataoka’s ball was eventually found after the search time expired. The Rules require the player whose ball is lost to proceed under stroke and distance (Rule 18.2b). When Hataoka did not play from where she had previously played from, she played from the wrong place (Rule 14.7). Because where she played from could give the player a significant advantage compared to the stroke to be made from the right place, this is considered a serious breach of Rule 14.7 with a penalty of disqualification if not corrected in time. The player had until she left the scoring area to correct this mistake per Rule 14.7.

Because Hataoka’s ball was deemed lost after three minutes expired, she played her fourth shot from the wrong place (near the green). Hataoka should’ve instead gone back to where she hit her second shot.

It is unclear why a rules official monitoring the broadcast in real-time didn’t step in.

Jenny Shin, who led after the second round, took to twitter to weigh in on the situation:

Hataoka is not in the field for next week’s Meijer LPGA Classic, which means she has only the KPMG Women’s PGA to solidify her spot on Japan’s Olympic team.

With U.S. Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso moving up to No. 6 in the world after her victory at Lancaster Country Club, Hataoka, No. 19, currently holds Japan’s second spot. Ayaka Furue, however, is hot on her heels at No. 22. Furue is currently in a share of second at the ShopRite and in prime position to pass her compatriot.

Miyu Yamashit is No. 25.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek