By Flint Wheeler
The LPGA Tour has suffered for years now with viewership, key sponsors for headline events, and an image bruise regarding the lack of quality American Players and now it just threw up all over itself in our backyard. A stunned Lexi Thompson received a four-stroke penalty walking off the 12th green Sunday at the ANA Inspiration. LPGA officials received an email from a viewer about a possible rules infraction during the third round when Thompson was on the seventh hole of Round 4.
Thompson lost the tournament on the first sudden-death hole to Soyeon Ryu.
Officials deliberated for two hours before informing Thompson that she had replaced her ball an inch away from its original position on a 1-foot putt on the 17th hole Saturday. She received two strokes for that violation plus two more for signing an incorrect scorecard. Her third-round 67 was changed to a 71.
“Oh my God,” Thompson said, walking to the tee. “This is ridiculous.”
“Is this a joke?” she asked.
LPGA rules official Sue Witters later said she was 100-percent certain that Thompson did not do it intentionally.
“It was a hard thing to do. To be honest, it made me sick.”
The LPGA said she breached USGA Rule 20-7c and Rule 16-1b. She incurred an additional penalty for incorrect scorecards under Rule 6-6d.
LPGA Statement Regarding Lexi Thompson Penalty
On Sunday afternoon, the LPGA received an email from a television viewer, saying that Lexi Thompson did not properly replace her ball prior to putting out on the 17th hole during Saturday’s third round of the ANA Inspiration. The claim was quickly investigated by LPGA Rules officials.
After a full review, it was determined that Thompson breached Rule 20-7c (Playing From Wrong Place), and received a two-stroke penalty under Rule 16-1b. She incurred an additional two-stroke penalty under Rule 6-6d for returning an incorrect scorecard in round three. She was immediately notified of the breach by LPGA Rules Committee in between holes 12 and 13 of the final round.
In a matter of seconds the tour’s top American went from a two-stroke advantage over Suzann Pettersen to a two-stroke deficit.
An obviously distraught Thompson pounded a drive on the 13th tee. Showing incredible mental fortitude, Thompson went on to birdie the hole, while Pettersen bogeyed.
Thompson, winner here in 2014, joined four other players – Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu, Minjee Lee and Pettersen – in a tie for at 13 under with four to play.
The USGA’s proposed rules changes for 2019 would prevent such a thing from happening in the future because of the reasonable judgement standard. Thompson made a reasonable effort to return the ball to its original position.
Some big names in the golf world reacted with shock and anger:
“Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes. Let’s go Lexi, win this thing anyway.” Tweeted Tiger Woods.
Justin Thomas Chimed in with; “Whatever number this is that people can call in, it needs to go away. Hoping it doesn’t cost Lexi”.
And my personal favorite; “Who the F#*k is sitting at home zooming in on that stuff??” Tweeted in by Shane Lowry. This kind of crap is why golf is struggling.