A drama filled final round of the first women’s major of the year sees So Yeon Ryu holding aloft the trophy and many debating whether TV viewers should influence the outcome of golf tournaments.
The history books will show that Korea’s So Yeon Ryu won her second golf major by beating American Lexi Thompson in a playoff at the ANA Inspiration in California.
But the reality is that everyone is talking about the 4-stroke penalty that Thompson was assessed for a rules indiscretion that she committed on the 17th green, yesterday.
A TV viewer emailed the tournament to say that they believe Thompson had incorrectly replaced her ball after marking it during the latter stages of the third round.
The video below shows the rules infraction – Thompson marked her ball then replaced it in a different place and a rules official explaining to her the penalty; two strokes for not playing her ball form the original position and another two-strokes for incorrectly signing her card.
At the time the penalty was given, Thompson was leading the field by three shots and the 22-year-old faced a tough test of the emotions over the final holes.
Remarkably Thompson held it together enough to almost snatch victory at the final hole.
With Ryu in the clubhouse at 14-under par, Thompson hit the final par-5 green in two and left her eagle putt agonizingly short leaving a tap-in birdie to force a playoff.
Thompson and Ryu headed to the 18th hole for a sudden death playoff. Thompson made par after finding the rough off the tee and Ryu’s birdie was enough to see the Korean lift her second major championship golf trophy.
“I just cannot believe this situation. During play, I didn’t even check the leaderboard, but I thought Lexi played really, really well. Then I didn’t expect it, what happened to Lexi. It’s like very unfortunate situation” Ryu said.
“I didn’t expect it. I thought, I’m well behind, so all I wanted to do was just play my game and enjoy my game. I was paired with my best friend, Inbee Park today, so I just really wanted to have a really good, strong finish.”
An emotional Thompson held herself together for a green-side interview after losing the playoff.
There was plenty of support for Thompson on social media. Even Tiger Woods, also a victim of the TV viewing rules official at the 2013 Masters chimed in on Twitter with his disgust at the ruling.
Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes. Let’s go @Lexi, win this thing anyway.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 3, 2017
It seems clear that Thompson broke the rules of golf on Saturday by not replacing her ball in the correct place on the 17th green, but the debate over whether the TV viewer should have the power to change the course of a golf tournament has begun again. This time it seems it’s more heated than ever.