For the third time in less than a year, a major golf championship has been upset by a rules situation that many argue could have been avoided. Lexi Thompson is the latest victim, losing the ANA championship to So Yeon Ryu for moving her ball less than an inch.
Thompson received two, two-stroke penalties for the improper ball marking.
An email was sent to the LPGA fan website during Sunday’s match, which pointed out that Thompson had misplaced her ball on No. 17 in the final round of Saturday’s match.
The message arrived as Thompson was at No. 9 with Suzann Pettersen on Sunday. Two rules officials studied the tape from Saturday’s match, and notified Thompson of the penalty as she walked off No. 12.
Thompson received one two-stroke penalty for signing a scorecard for 67 instead of 69, and another two-stroke penalty for returning her ball to the wrong spot.
Fans rallied around Thompson after news of the penalty broke. She birdied the next hole after learning of the devastating news, and birdied No. 15 to regain to lead for a brief period of time.
“I just tried to gather myself to hit that drive,” said Thompson, who signed autographs for fans for a half hour after losing. “I learned a lot about myself today and what I have in me. I’m proud of the way I played coming in.”
LPGA vice president for rules and competitions, Sue Witters, said that Thompson’s ball was misplaced by “maybe an inch.”
“I’m 100 percent certain it was not intentional. Lexi is a class lady,” Witters added.
According to the rules, a violation on Saturday can be reported and assessed on Sunday, but a violation on Sunday cannot be assessed on Monday.
Tiger Woods weighed in on the upset on Twitter: “Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes. Let’s go @Lexi, win this thing anyway.”