'It felt wrong': A MN teen shows true sportsmanship after a scoring mistake

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Hope Hasslen stood just off the green, clubs right next to her, counting and recounting on her fingers.

Did she shoot an 8 on that last hole at Benson Golf Club, or a 9?

Her official scorecard recorded it as an 8 – giving her an overall score of 90 in the Section 5A high school tournament. That was good enough for her to sneak into the state tournament, where, as the top golfer on Ortonville High School's girls team, she hoped to improve on her 10th-place finish there the year before.

But after she signed and handed in the official scorecard at the end of the round Wednesday, she went over to her father and brother (also golfers), and they told her they'd counted 9 strokes. Not 8.

That'd be a score of 91, meaning she was done; out of the state tournament, just like that. Her junior season ending well short of where she'd hoped.

"She wasn’t her normal elated self," her coach, Roger Sandberg, told BringMeTheNews. "She said, 'Coach, I don’t know if I got an 8 on that last hole.'”

The choice she made next is one that's earning her praise from coaches and players around the state.

"My heart just like, hurt," she told BringMeTheNews. "I dunno. My heart just sank. I had a pit in my stomach. It felt wrong. It just felt wrong."

Hasslen, who is 16 years old, then did what many people would struggle to do. She admitted the mix-up (an honest mistake in the heat of battle, her coach said) and notified officials, willingly taking herself out of the state tournament.

"I felt guilty," she said. "I just felt like I shouldn’t go to state if i don’t deserve it."

'The most honorable act that I have ever witnessed'

Hasslen's story was first shared by Renville golf head coach Greg Snow, who described what the young golfer did as "the most honorable act" he'd ever witnessed. He emailed the Minnesota State High School League, which then shared the note on its own Facebook page.

After 10 hours, it got more than 100 shares and more than 500 likes.

She could have done nothing, kept quiet, and gone to the state tournament, Snow wrote.

"Instead, what she does get is the respect and admiration of those of us who were lucky enough to witness such an honorable act."

He continued: "Hope, thank you for restoring my faith in the integrity of this great game."

The choice wasn't easy in the moment, Hasslen said. In addition to the individual state tournament appearance in 2014, she'd been there with the team the two years before that as well.

"It really sucks that I can’t be going to state right now," she said. "But I think in the long run it’s kind of amazing what everybody said. It feels good."

Hasslen said she's been getting notifications on Facebook all day, texts from teammates saying how proud they were, and even emails from other coaches.

Sandberg said it was something he'd never seen in his 39 years coaching at Ortonville, and for her teammates, demonstrated all the justification needed for having her as a leader.

Was it fair to say he was proud of her decision?

"Big time. Big time," he said. "That’d be the word to use. And if you can think of a word beyond that, then that’d be the word to use."

Hasslen will have one more shot at the state tournament, as a senior. And she'll come back stronger she said, motivated after falling short this year.

"I think I made the right decision," she said.

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