Lexi Thompson Loses Major Championship with 4-Stroke Penalty After TV Fan Calls in Rules Violation

Lexi Thompson
The Associated Press

It started almost four decades ago when TV viewers heard one golf legend, Tom Watson, give another legend, Lee Trevino, advice during the 1980 Tournament of Champions at La Costa. A fan dialed up the PGA tour, said he saw Watson commit an infraction and after video review, bingo, he was assessed a 2-stroke penalty.

Sunday, a fan called into the LPGA and said he saw Lexi Thompson on Saturday at the ANA Inspiration place her ball down in front of her mark on the 17th hole about one inch from where it technically should have been placed. As a result, the then current tournament leader incurred a mind blowing 4-stroke penalty, effectively stealing the first major championship of the year from the 22-year-old Florida native.

As Golf.com reported, Thompson was penalized two strokes for playing from the wrong place. On top of that, consequently, another 2-stroke penalty was tacked on for signing an incorrect scorecard after her Saturday round for not accounting for the assessed 2-stroke penalty. 

Thompson, the fifty-four hole leader, commandeered the top of the leaderboard, ahead by two strokes on Sunday, when she was notified on the 12th hole by an official that she incurred the penalty. The penalties dropped her into second place and two strokes behind the leader. Thompson battled back to tie So Yeon Ryu to enter a sudden death playoff, but her fairy tale ending crashed when Ryu sunk a birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win her second major title.

Fans calling in violations during golf tournaments have irked many over the years. But, the loss of a major championship by such behavior could be the “club that breaks the caddy’s back,” putting an end to such nonsense, gauging by the reaction of many regarding the incident: