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Sports: Lexi Thompson lost the LPGA's first major of the season after a TV viewer emailed in a 4-stroke penalty



Lexi Thompson lost the ANA Inspiration on Sunday in painful fashion and in a way that left her in tears and had many fans livid.

Lexi Thompson lost the ANA Inspiration on Sunday in painful fashion and in a way that left her in tears and had many fans livid.

Late in the final round of the LPGA's first major of the season, Thompson was seemingly cruising to her second major championship. But then the unthinkable happened: A TV viewer emailed in a 4-stroke penalty that cost her the win.

With six holes to go, Thompson had a 3-stroke lead. What she didn't know, however, was that the LPGA had received an email from a television viewer pointing out a potential rules violation late in Saturday's third round.

It turns out that Thompson incorrectly replaced her ball on a short putt on the 17th hole. Here is the infraction in question. According to the LPGA rules officials, you can't see the coin when the ball is marked, but when the ball is placed back on the ground, the coin is visible.

After a lengthy deliberation, the LPGA assessed two 2-stroke penalties to Thompson. One of the penalties was for not playing the ball from the correct spot. The second penalty was for filing an incorrect scorecard.

Just as the television audience was being informed of the penalties, Thompson bogeyed the 12th hole. That meant her 3-stroke lead, combined with the bogey and the penalties, dropped her to 2 strokes back with six holes to go.

Following the 12th hole, Thompson was informed of the penalties. She responded, "Is this a joke?"

It was not.

Here is the statement from the LPGA:

"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."

In a surreal scene, when Thompson approached the 18th green, the crowd started chanting her name and she gave some in the gallery high-fives.

She was visibly shaken and had to wipe away the tears.

She ultimately was able to work her way back to a tie with So Yeon Ryu and a sudden-death playoff. But Ryu won in the playoff, and Thompson was left wondering what could have been and why she was being assessed a penalty for something that happened 24 hours earlier.



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