Saturday, January 20, 2018
Golf

Lexi Thompson loses LPGA major after controversial penalties

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — So Yeon Ryu won the ANA Inspiration on Sunday in a one-hole playoff with Lexi Thompson, who was penalized four strokes late in the final round of the LPGA Tour major for an incorrect ball placement and signing an incorrect scorecard a day earlier.

Ryu birdied the 18th hole in the playoff to win her second major title, but her celebration was muted because of the bizarre circumstances.

Thompson, the third-round leader, had a three-shot lead in the final round and appeared to be cruising to her second major championship when tour rules officials informed her of the penalty with six holes to play.

An email from a TV viewer during the final round alerted officials to the violation committed Saturday. The tour confirmed it with a video review. Thompson had marked a 1-foot putt with a coin on the 17th green during her third round, but she replaced the ball perhaps 1 inch out of position. Rules require the ball to be replaced in the exact same spot.

Thompson was penalized two strokes for an incorrect ball placement and two strokes for signing at scorecard that didn't include the placement penalty.

If golf officials hadn't made a rule change last year, Thompson would have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. Now, because her incorrect score resulted from a failure to include a penalty she wasn't aware of, she wasn't disqualified.

"It's unfortunate what happened," Thompson said. "I did not mean that at all. I didn't realize I did that. I felt strong through the finish, and it was great to see the fans behind me."

Thompson was visibly shaken when the ruling dropped her from 16 under to 12 under and one shot off the lead. But she birdied the 13th hole and battled back into a five-way tie for the lead, making three birdies and a bogey on the final six holes of regulation at Mission Hills Country Club.

Ryu birdied 18 to move in front. Thompson crushed her approach shot on 18 several minutes later. With emotions visible on her face amid loud chants of her name, Thompson gathered herself but left a 15-foot winning eagle putt about an inch short.

Thompson finished with 5-under 67 and Ryu 68 for 14-under 274.

"I just cannot believe the situation," said Ryu, who also won the 2011 U.S. Women's Open. "I thought Lexi played really, really well. I didn't expect what happened to Lexi. It's a very unfortunate situation. … I thought I'm well behind, so all I wanted to do was play my game."

But this event will be remembered for the sight of LPGA rules official Sue Witters explaining the penalty to Thompson while she walked to the 13th tee.

"Is this a joke?" Thompson asked Witters.

Assured it wasn't, she responded: "This is ridiculous."

Witters said "it made me sick" to have to penalize Thompson in this situation but "I can't go to bed (Sunday) knowing I let a rule slide."

Golf fans on the course and the Internet erupted with outrage when the LPGA's decision became understood. Tiger Woods immediately came to Thompson's defense on Twitter. "Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes," he wrote.

PGA: Russell Henley shot 7-under 65 for a three-shot victory in the Houston Open at 20-under 268 in Humble, Texas. The win got him a spot in this week's Masters. Third-round leader Sung Kang (72) was second.

Champions: Miguel Angel Jimenez won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic for the second straight year, beating Gene Sauers on the first playoff hole with an 18-foot birdie putt in Biloxi. Jimenez shot 2-under 70 in the final round and Sauers, the third-round leader, 71 to finish regulation at 13-under 203.

Comments
McIlroy shoots third-round 65, trails by 1 at Abu Dhabi

McIlroy shoots third-round 65, trails by 1 at Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Rory McIlroy fired 7-under 65 Saturday in the third round of the Abu Dhabi Championship to move one shot behind co-leaders Ross Fisher and Thomas Pieters. Fisher shot 65 and overnight leader Pieters added 67 to reach...
Updated: 11 hours ago
McIlroy returns from injury, trails by 3 in first round of European Tour event

McIlroy returns from injury, trails by 3 in first round of European Tour event

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Rory McIlroy’s patience was tested Thursday on his comeback, needing three late birdies to shoot 3-under 69 that left him three strokes behind first-round leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara at the Abu Dhabi ...
Published: 01/18/18
Patton Kizzire beats James Hahn in marathon Sony Open playoff

Patton Kizzire beats James Hahn in marathon Sony Open playoff

HONOLULU — A day after a false alarm caused some panic at the Sony Open, there was more drama — of a much more benign sort.Patton Kizzire made par on the tournament-record sixth playoff hole Sunday to beat James Hahn and win his second PGA Tour title...
Published: 01/14/18
False alarm on missile launch triggers anxiety at PGA Tour event in Hawaii

False alarm on missile launch triggers anxiety at PGA Tour event in Hawaii

HONOLULU — Charles Howell was eating breakfast in his hotel when the restaurant at the Kahala started buzzing. Everyone had their phones. Everyone received the same push alert. "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS...
Published: 01/13/18
Brian Harman extends good play in Hawaii, takes Sony Open lead

Brian Harman extends good play in Hawaii, takes Sony Open lead

HONOLULU — Different islands, vastly different golf courses, same good play from Brian Harman. One week after Harman shared the 36-hole lead at Kapalua, he ran off three straight birdies and closed with a 15-foot eagle putt for 7-under 63 and a three...
Published: 01/12/18
Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson share lead at PGA’s Sony Open in Hawaii

Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson share lead at PGA’s Sony Open in Hawaii

HONOLULU — Zach Johnson and Chris Kirk kept clean cards on a gorgeous day and each shot 7-under 63 Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Sony Open. Jordan Spieth wasn’t as fortunate. Spieth hit four trees with four shots on the par-...
Published: 01/11/18
Dustin Johnson romps to 8-shot victory in Hawaii

Dustin Johnson romps to 8-shot victory in Hawaii

KAPALUA, Hawaii — A new year brought out the best in Dustin Johnson, who powered his way to 8-under 65 and an eight-shot victory Sunday in the Tournament of Champions. In a field that featured the top-five players in the world, Johnson made a strong ...
Published: 01/07/18
Missouri senior uses playoff birdie to win New Year’s Invitational in St. Petersburg

Missouri senior uses playoff birdie to win New Year’s Invitational in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Cold and windy conditions didn’t affect Hayden Buckley last year when he won the New Year’s Invitational, and they didn’t affect him again this year in the 92nd edition of the event.The University of Missouri senior repeated as champ...
Published: 01/07/18

Dustin Johnson surges into lead at Tournament of Champions

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Dustin Johnson holed out with a wedge for eagle, made birdie on every par 5 and powered his way to 7-under 66 to build a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Tournament of Champions. Coming off his lone bogey from a poor ...
Published: 01/06/18
Tiger Woods’ return includes Torrey Pines, Rivera

Tiger Woods’ return includes Torrey Pines, Rivera

Tiger Woods is playing twice in California over the next six weeks as he begins another comeback on the PGA Tour from back surgery. Woods announced Thursday that he will play the Farmers Insurance Open on Jan. 25 at Torrey Pines, the San Diego course...
Updated one month ago