As far as I am concerned on Sunday, Lexi Thompson won the ANA Inspiration Tournament at Mission Hills CC in Rancho Mirage, CA. She receieved a 4 stroke penalty after her 12th hole on Sunday. From the previous day's round for failing to replace her ball correctly after marking it on the green. Clearly if you watch the video, Lexi Thompson certainly did not play the ball from the correct place. She moved the ball a quarter inch to the left as she marked her ball back on the green to clean up a 2 foot putt she had on the 17th hole Saturday.
How did she get the penalty? From a fan, a viewer at home who paused and rewound the video. The governing body of golf allows for spectators and fans to call in if they see any possible rule infractions or discrepancies.
Why did she receive 4 strokes? Lexi received 2 strokes for mismarking her ball and 2 strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard.
As I said, she definitely moved her ball a fraction of an inch to the left. It is unfortunate that it happened and she handled it like a true champion making 2 birdies in her last 6 holes to still force a playoff before losing on the first playoff hole to So Yeon Ryu. Had Lexi received the penalty by the end of the day Saturday, I would have no problem with her receiving a penalty of 2 strokes for strokes. However, the additional 2 strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard is not fair to the game. Getting penalized on top for signing an "incorrect scorecard".
These types of rules are where golf needs to make big strides in simplifying the rules of the game. They have started to with the new rule changes for 2018 and many of those are great. The next step is to attack this issue of having armchair rules officials being able to affect golf tournaments. My suggestion would be if by the end of the day a rules infraction is found then penalties can be added. If not, than you CANNOT go back and add penalties the next day, week, or month. In reality golf is the only sport affected by fans being able to call in.
It may just take a bit of out of the box thinking in order to keep these types of disasters from happening. The integrity of the game was not compromised by Lexi. She gained no advantage for what she did even though it was incorrect. Her lie was not improved at all. As Rickie Fowler said outside influence needs to end, if the tour wants to have someone manning a camera on each green looking for these things, fine. But fans should not be allowed to have a direct affect on outcome.
Kevin Trobaugh, PGA Apprentice at Des Moines Golf & CC.
I grew up working, golfing and practicing at Fox Ridge Golf Course.