Sorry for the delay in this blog. It was on my mind and I wanted to share this last week. Circumstances and a trip to Barcelona delayed my thoughts on Lexi Thompson and the Four Strokes Penalty, which is a pretty good name for a band.
While the golf world forgets the spitting, sour grapes and club throwing of the new Masters champion, let’s go back to April 2, 2017….
Imagine you’re in a race of 40,000 meters over four days. You run 10,000 meters each of the four days. Come the fourth and final race you’re in first place by two laps after ⅔ of the final race completed.
Then a race official comes up along side you. He says that a TV viewer saw you bump another runner on the third day. It was an accident and not a factor in your or the other runner’s position.
Yet, it is a rules infraction and it affected your racing position after the third race. The infraction gives you a penalty of four laps. Now, with only 3,000 meters to go, you’re no longer in first by two laps. You are now behind the new leader by two laps.
This happened to Lexi Thompson during the final round of the ANA Inspiration. Thompson received a FOUR stroke penalty walking off the 12th green. For an infraction that happened the previous day. It was from an e-mail sent by a TV viewer that alerted the judges. The ANA Inspiration is an LPGA Major Tournament.
The armchair referee is nothing new. Old timers will remember it was Craig Stadler who was the first victim. In that case, “While playing the 14th hole of Saturday’s third round, Stadler had found it necessary to play a stroke from a kneeling position. Because the ground was wet from Friday night’s rain, Stadler pulled out a towel and placed it under both knees. (Bob Wolfe, of the LA Times dated 2/16/87)
Presumably, he just wanted to keep his trousers dry. But in doing so he also violated rule 13-3 1/2, defined as building a stance. Stadler, who thought he tied for second, lost over $37,000 that day.
After the penalty, Lexi Thompson, found the fortitude to birdie the next hole. She got into a playoff despite that crushing setback.
Why do the Tours allow judges to watch a video, then go out on the course to assess a penalty that occurred the day before? It’s not fair to the competitors or the fans.
TV cameras, with closeups and replay, create situations that otherwise would not be there. No one present saw a penalty. Thompson said she was unaware of any rule violation. Nobody disputes that. Without the eye of TV there would be no bizarre situations like the one that occurred to Thompson.
The trials and tribulations of Lexi Thompson were newsworthy. As was the execution of penalties on a tip from a couch potato a farce.
But the sad fact of the matter is, it takes a something crazy like this for MSM sports to report on a woman’s golf event. Now that’s a violation.