LPGA commissioner Mike Whan: Lexi Thompson penalties a "black eye" for golf

By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange   |   April 10, 2017 at 3:01 PM
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April 10 (UPI) -- When Lexi Thompson was assessed two two-stroke penalties that virtually cost her the ANA Inspiration, the first LPGA Tour major of the year, the outcry from fans phoning or faxing in to point out violations in pro golf tournaments hit an all-time high.

Commissioner Mike Whan of the LPGA Tour didn't say much at the time, but in an interview a few days later he admitted it was a black eye for the game and his organization.

"It's frustrating," Whan told Matt Adams on the Fairways of Life show on Sirius XM PGA Tour radio. "It's embarrassing. It's one of those situations where the penalty does not match the crime."

Thompson was penalized for a violation that took place on the 17th green at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., but the fan didn't contact the LPGA Tour until Sunday.

The penalties were assessed as Thompson walked off the 12th green in the final round. The four strokes erased her two-stroke lead and she eventually lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu of South Korea.

"I think it's a fair critique and a fair criticism whether or not somebody can point something out that causes us to review it, and whether or not we should do that a day later," Whan said. "But that's not an LPGA thing. That is pretty much an every major tour thing.

"I feel bad about it, but I'm not going to abort the Rules of Golf in the middle of a round. I'm not going to overrule something that is correctly ruled. It doesn't mean we have to love that ruling and the penalty that goes with it."

Whan said a review of how similar incidents should be handled in the future is underway, but would not elaborate.

It's been pointed out that this would not have happened at the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Wimbledon, World Cup soccer, the Olympic Games or any other major sports events.

Golf is embarrassed and it should be, so perhaps change is coming.

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