Golf should be embarrassed after the Lexi Thompson ruling
On a week where the golfing world shifts its attention towards the first major of the year on the PGA Tour (The Masters), Instead, most are talking about what happened Sunday during the LPGA Tour's first Major.
After watching what transpired during the final round of the ANA Inspiration on Sunday, the only thing I can feel is embarrassed. Embarrassed for Lexi Thompson, for the fans who watched what she had to go through, to the fan who called in this infraction and finally to the game of golf.
But before I go after golf for another untimely and humiliating display of implementing the rules of golf, let's just go through what happened. During the third round on the 17th hole, Lexi Thompson leads by 3 shots as her birdie putt slides by the hole. She then marks her ball by placing a coin behind the ball and moves the ball slightly to re-align her marks towards the hole. While moving the ball, you can see her move the ball no more than an inch to the right on her rather routine one-foot par putt. She goes on to make the putt and close out a third round 71. She signs her card and begins preparation for the final round of the LPGA Tour's first major.
Now we get to the real issue, as Thompson walks off the 12th green during the final round, she had a two-shot lead. When she stepped up onto the 13th tee, she was now two shots BEHIND! Sue Witters, the LPGA's vice president of rules and competition, informed Thompson that she was given a 4 shot penalty (2 for marking the ball incorrectly, 2 for signing and incorrect scorecard). Thompson went on to birdie the 13th hole after hearing the news but ended up losing the tournament in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.
So many questions to be answered but the one I have is very simple, how is this ok?
How can golf allow some person sitting at home on their couch to call in and change the outcome of this tournament?! This makes golf look terrible and makes it seem as if they can't enforce their own rules. I mean seriously, do you see people calling in to the NCAA tournament games saying "O, Hey! that was a foul!" Bring the teams back out so we can shoot more free throws and now Northwestern should be in the title game because of the call at the end of the Gonzaga game. No! That doesn't happen! You have a rules official walking with every group, what are they doing then? Also, you wait almost 24 hours to enforce this infraction? Which you did not see in real time anyway? I'm sorry USGA (United States Golf Association) you missed on this one and the other times that this has happened.
This also was the case in the 2013 Masters as Tiger Woods hit his approach shot on the Par 5 15th hole into the water and dropped his ball TWO yards behind where he originally hit the ball. Obviously these situations are different because of the intent but the issue still remains that some 25 handicap golfer was sitting on his/her couch at home and called this infraction in. This is a problem for golf and they need to change it. If the rules officials can not do their jobs then they need to be replaced or even better, change the rules of golf so they are easier to understand! I have been golfing since I was 5 and still some of the rules are confusing and quite frankly unnecessary.
To Lexi Thompson, I'm sorry. I'm sorry you played good enough to win and it was taken away from you in this fashion. I commend you in being a true professional and I know myself, and many others would not have handled it with such grace and humility as you did. You made the game proud even if the game didn't return the favor.