Lexi Thompson loses major in playoff after fan calls in four-stroke penalty

Lexi Thompson’s four scorecards from the 2017 ANA Inspiration read 69-67-67-67. That would be 18 under if you’re scoring home, and it should have been enough to win the first LPGA major of 2017 by four strokes.

But someone emailed the LPGA on Sunday about a moment that happened in Thompson’s Saturday round, and she was docked four strokes, which turned her Saturday 67 into a 71. 

Thompson fell to 14 under and eventually lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu. This was Ryu’s second major title.

The moment question came at the par-3 17th hole on Saturday. Thompson appears to have moved her ball slightly after marking it. A viewer emailed the LPGA on Sunday, and Thompson was told about the penalty during the middle of her round and that she would be docked two strokes for the movement of the ball and two more for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Thompson asked if the pronouncement was a joke.

Incredibly, after she was told about the incident, Thompson made three birdies coming home (including a near-eagle at the last) to get into the playoff. She parred the first playoff hole and Ryu won.

The LPGA released a statement defending its actions.

On Sunday afternoon, the LPGA received an email from a television viewer, saying that Lexi Thompson did not properly replace her ball prior to putting out on the 17th hole during Saturday’s third round of the ANA Inspiration. The claim was quickly investigated by LPGA Rules officials.

After a full review, it was determined that Thompson breached Rule 20-7c (Playing From Wrong Place), and received a two-stroke penalty under Rule 16-1b. She incurred an additional two-stroke penalty under Rule 6-6d for returning an incorrect scorecard in round three. She was immediately notified of the breach by LPGA Rules Committee in between holes 12 and 13 of the final round.

Thompson was still in disbelief after the round, but she handled everything with as much class as you would expect.

“It’s unfortunate what happened,” Thompson said. “I did not mean that at all. I didn’t realize I did that. I fought strong through the finish and it was great to see the fans behind me. My caddie helped me out tremendously. We have a great relationship and he just said, ‘stay with it.’

“I learned a lot about myself and how much fight I do have in me. And I don’t know, every day is a learning process, and I wasn’t expecting what happened today but it is what it is. It happens, and I’ll learn from it and hopefully I’ll do better. I am proud. Just the way I played coming in. You know, I am a very emotional person. I fought strong and that’s all I could do.

“I played amazing today. Probably the best golf I played all week. Wasn’t expecting that on whatever hole that was. I did not intentionally do that. So to the officials, or whatever called in, that was not my purpose. I didn’t even realize I did that. But you know what, I fought hard coming in, and I didn’t give up. I knew I could still win. But I mean, so many players played great, so congrats to So Yeon.”

Several golfers watching the tournament weighed in on Twitter, including Tiger Woods.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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