You may have heard something about the big penalty shocker at this years ANA Inspiration. Following last year's Solheim Cup controversy, it seems there are more and more golf rule disruptions taking place in ladies golf.
I will set the scene. Lexi Thompson is comfortably leading with the match, 2 shots clear and more than half way through the final round in good form. At this point she was informed by an official, whilst walking to the 13th hole, that a viewer had emailed in regarding the previous day’s round to point out that Lexi has misplaced her ball marker on the 17th green. Upon reviewing the footage, the officials agreed and gave Lexi a 2 stroke penalty. Not only that, because that 2 shot penalty has been applied her score card from yesterday is now officially incorrect and as she has signed and submitted that score card, she is penalised by another 2 stokes for the ball maker incident she had no idea she had made. Suddenly she is no longer 2 shots ahead but 2 behind. In a display of sheer professionalism, Thompson dealt with the blow and completed her round level with So Yeon Ryu at 2 shots under. Ryu went on to win the match in a tie break with Thompson. Without the penalty Lexi would have won with 4 clear shots.
I could not provide you with a better example of why golf puts off so many players to ridiculous rules and out of date approaches to sport. In what other sport would an armchair viewer be able to email in (I’d like to know which email address he used) and his judgement would literally take the trophy from a player - the day after the incident took place?
Although apparently a minority, as many of the pro golfers on the scene have come out in support for Lexi - I actually don’t strongly dispute the 2 stroke penalty for playing from the wrong place. Thompson marked her ball at the side then placed in front giving herself a slight but definite advantage on the hole. Whether it was intentional or not, only Thomson will know. And whether or not this is a commonly used technique by other players on tour is also up for debate but personally I think you should learn to mark and place as part of your routine and not with any advantage in mind.
However, the part I am absolutely incensed with is how you can be given a 2 shot penalty for a card you didn’t mark incorrectly until someone pointed out a mistake a day later. If the incident had happened in the final round - after Lexi would have been awarded the trophy, would it have been taken from her and both players called back for a play off? Absolutely not. And in what other sport can a TV viewer have input on any other sporting game? I wonder if we still have time to influence the 2010 world cup we were robbed of?
I’ll pen an email on behalf of the country now.