Not like this. Of the top 5 finishers at the 2017 ANA Inspiration (So-Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson, Minjee Lee, Inbee Park and Suzann Pettersen), I am firmly Team So-Yeon Ryu. I like all of those players, but I have a special affinity for Ryu, whom I have been waiting eagerly to celebrate in victory again during a stretch that saw her last LPGA win come in August 2014. But not like this. With a 3-shot lead and seemingly on her way to her 2nd LPGA Major, both at Dinah’s tournament, Lexi Thompson was informed between the 12th and 13th hole by rules official Sue Witter that during the previous round she incorrectly placed her ball when marking a one foot putt. That penalty cost her 2-shots. Because it wasn’t caught before she signed her card for the 3rd round, it also meant the score for which she signed was incorrect. That’s another 2-shot penalty. This was the result of a television viewer noticing the incorrect ball placement and emailing the tournament officials.
“Is this a joke?” That’s what Lexi Thompson asked Sue Witter. Allow me to answer that question. Damn right it’s a joke! It’s a joke that an armchair official can contact an event from home to penalize a player. It’s a joke that whatever the rules infraction, that it is allowed to carry over to the 12th hole of the following round. What if this happened in the final round after Lexi cruises to victory. Are they calling the players back on Monday to wrest the trophy from her hands? Also, if she had known on hole number 1, maybe she goes at pins more and shoots a 65 and still wins. In the end, she shot 67 but with the penalty it will show her shooting a 71. I don’t care if her penalty this year was milder than what it would have been in previous years (disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard). I am sick of this armchair official garbage. A proposed 2019 USGA rule change of reasonable judgement would have prevented this outcome. 2019 can’t get here soon enough! I try to stay positive on my blog. I celebrate winners even when they are not among my favorites. But it is taking every measure of control I have not to really say what I want to about these home viewer penalties happening over and over…4 shots for being an inch off on a one foot putt? That’s ridiculous! And the player I was rooting for actually won! But I feel no joy in her win. Zero. And lastly, I don’t want to hear that Lexi still had a chance to win in the playoff she battled back to be in. 4 shots is 4 shots. She should NEVER have been in a playoff. If this happens at the Honda LPGA Thailand or the Kia Classic or some other non-Major, I am not that upset. There are millions of dollars flying around at Majors. Hire 36 people to officiate each hole, two to a hole, one assigned to the green. If they don’t catch a penalty that day, that’s it. Or even if you continue to allow this armchair official crap, it has to be in by the end of play that day, not emailed during the 7th hole of the next round. That even makes me wonder about the person responsible for this. Were they just protecting the integrity of the game…or was it somebody who didn’t want Lexi to win? I find it hard to believe somebody pulling for Lexi would have emailed this infraction simply out of a sense of integrity. And don’t be a coward. Put names behind those who call in penalties. I realize we don’t want people being threatened, but if you want to be a part of the officiating, you shouldn’t be able to do so anonymously. Sue Witter has her name in the press right now taking heat over this. How do we know this person wasn’t somebody with a connection to one of Lexi’s competitors?
So I will continue to do what I always do, congratulate the winner regardless of my feelings about who they are or how it was accomplished. But never have I felt so hollow, so perfunctory about offering congratulations. I hate how I feel right now because I adore So-Yeon Ryu. She is so classy, so talented, a bridge between Korean and American fans…an asset to the LPGA that I think isn’t as valued as she should be. It’s her 4th LPGA victory and 2nd Major. If it were earned a different way, I would be turning cartwheels celebrating. I thought about waiting until I calmed down to do this post. I chose to go ahead and write while my feelings were raw, because it’s what I really feel. I didn’t want to post a day or two later with false emotion, twisting and shaping my words to conceal my disgust. My blog has become 90% tennis in recent months. The golf posts had nearly disappeared (also, I was sick and didn’t have the energy to post tennis and golf). I had decided to kick back into LPGA and JLPGA posts with the ANA Inspiration. After this, I frankly don’t know when I will want to watch another LPGA event. I wouldn’t feel any differently had my favorite, Ariya Jutanugarn, been the beneficiary of this ruling. Well, I still have the JLPGA. Min-Young Lee, congratulations on winning Yamaha!!
ALL PICS CLICK TO ENLARGE
T3 MINJEE LEE (-13)
T3 SUZANN PETTERSEN (-13)
T3 INBEE PARK (-13)
2 LEXI THOMPSON (-14)
1 SO-YEON RYU (-14)