On Saturday, Lexi Thompson was cruising through her round when she got to 17. She missed a putt and marked her ball a foot away. When she went to complete the hole she put her ball 1 inch out of position. This is a clear violation that carries a two stroke penalty. Also, because the Tours no longer DQ for signing an incorrect scorecard, an additional 2 stroke penalty was assessed totally 4 strokes. The penalty wasn’t assessed until Sunday.
Thompson was approached by two rules officials after completion of the 12th hole to inform her of the penalty. Thompson’s response was a simple three word question,”is this a joke?” No it wasn’t. Far from it.
After that though you have to applaud Thompson. The crowd immediately went into full Solheim Cup. They were loud. Chanting Thompson’s name. She pulled herself together and birdied 13 and 15. After a bogey on 16, she birdied 18 to force a playoff with So Yeon Ryu. I credit her playing partner, Suzann Pettersen, for keeping her composure and being all class in a very difficult situation.
The playoff called for Thompson and Ryu to play the 18th hole until someone wins. The 18th hole is a Par 5 and with Lexi’s length, there was little doubt she would get there in two like she did when she played the same hole mere minutes ago. But a wayward tee shot but her in deep rough and took away any thought of an eagle. Ryu would birdie the playoff hole to complete a bogey free 68 on her way to winning the tournament.
By the time, Ryu went to do the celebatory jump into Poppie’s Pond the support for Lexi had already overshadowed her victory. Support was pouring in from every where including the best golfer of his generation.
Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes. Let’s go @Lexi, win this thing anyway.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 3, 2017
At this point, I expect the rule to be changed by the LPGA. The pressure it too great from the outside. The same outsiders that complained about a fellow outsider calling in a Rules Violations. Unlike other sports, there aren’t officials there with the job to call fouls. The are out there to assist golfers to interpret the rules. There’s no doubt in my mind that Thompson wasn’t trying to cheat the game but that doesn’t mean that the LPGA was wrong in how they handled this.
Golf is an etiquette game that requires players to monitor and penalize themselves. It’s part of the reason why comparing this situation to other sports doesn’t have a shred of legitimacy. Golf is the last integrity sport we have and that needs to be protected. There’s no ‘if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying’ moniker in this sport.
The outrage over the 4 stroke penalty given to Lexi Thompson has gotten completely out of control. The LPGA should get attention but not this type of attention. The Tour is full up and coming stars and has global appeal. What happened on Sunday wasn’t unfair to Thompson, it was unfair to the Tour.
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook