A stunning decision has been made by the Lakeshore Committee that some have speculated is way over due.
First, let me refresh your memory. Eleven years ago back in 2007, the final threesome of Sir William Lakel, the Chairman Philip Tom and Karl Mitchell approached the 18th tee box of the final round. This is before the secret gate and you had to make a lengthy walk from the 17th green. Through a huge gallery the 3 quietly worked their way to the tee of one of the greatest and famous par 3s in the country. Lakel was disinterested because he was having a rough Championship round after a beautiful 59 on the front. He was in the process of scoring a disappointing 76 from the tips and a good 10 shots out of the lead. Karl had a surprising significant 5 stroke lead over Tom. This was Karl’s rookie year and he was a 25-1 longshot to win the Championship. This was truly shocking and Karl was visibly nervous at etching his name on the trophy of winning a Major. It was a slightly sultry late afternoon setting.
Nothing was said by the 3 until Philip was stepping up to the tee. He looked at Karl and stated; “you know the Lakeshore is determined by the 18th every year..you know”. Karl although in his first year knew the history and responded; “yes I know”. Tom had just parred the 17th to cut the lead by 2 shots. If I recall correctly, 2 camera men had BOTH had their batteries die a hole or 2 earlier. So there is no video footage of what was about to transpire. Additionally there are zero photos of the upcoming controversy.
Tom hit a perfect pitch into the tight fairway. Karl was last to hit with his 5 shot lead. His first tee ball went over the fence very close to the fence line. It was deep and some 10 feet past parallel of the pin and came rest IN the fence line. This is where the controversy begins. The ball was either in the crease of the inside of the fence or on the pavement below the fence. It was where the fence has a slight curvature to the right and there are positions where it is difficult to determine which side it is on. The Lakeshore Club local rule is that your first tee ball cannot fly over the fence unless in comes back to the fairway side. Thus it is out of bounds if it fails to do so. Lakel was first on the scene and he stated he thought the ball was on the wrong side and out of bounds. He was not an official ‘marshall’ but he did make a judgment call. Tom was next to ball and he gave it a long and hard stare. He also ended up ruling it out. Karl then took a peek and felt it was IN.
This is exactly where the Committee has a problem. They believe it was a rush to judgement and that the opinions of Karl’s competitors should NOT have any influence whatsoever on the final hole of a Major. The Committee strongly believes that an additional marshall or two should have been called in before Karl hit his second tee ball. Possibly knowing Karl had a 5 shot lead, caused them to rush their decision because they did not feel it was going to be determinate of the Championship. In 2007, it would have been easy to take a picture or have Karl hit a provisional. Tragically, as many know, Karl went on to make a 9 and lose the Championship by one shot and get the unflattering title of ‘Lakeshore’s Jean Van de Velde’. This is a title that the Committee now believes in unfounded and unfair.
It is not often in life where you can right a wrong. But that is precisely what the Committee is going to do. The Committee feels that if the ball would have been ruled in, it would only be a formality for Karl to take down the Championship. Bygone rulings are seldom altered by overseeing councils but as I stated, we are ready to do just that. THE COMMITTEE IS GRANTING KARL MITCHELL THE 2007 ROYAL BLUE JACKET AND HIS FIRST MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP. He now becomes only the 3rd rookie to win the Lakeshore and his name will be etched on both trophies in time. Whether we have a formal jacket presentation has yet to be determined. This will also rid Karl of the Van de Velde unpleasant connotation. All can go to: lakeshoreopen.com and hit the tab under ‘prior years’ and scroll down to see the original writeup of the 2007 Championship. Congratulation Karl. -CHAIRMAN OF THE MAKE-A-WISH LAKESHORE OPEN TOURNAMENT COMMITTEE .