Rancho Mirage, April 2: South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu won her second Major at the ANA Inspiration, defeating American Lexi Thompson in a playoff but in rather bizarre circumstances.
Ryu birdied the first extra hole to claim the title after the duo had finished regulation play tied on 14-under-par at Mission Hills Country Club’s Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Thompson had earlier been informed of a rules infraction during the third round, when she was assessed to have improperly replaced her ball at the par-three 17th hole before putting out from about one foot.
The infraction was spotted by a TV viewer who notified the LPGA via their website on Sunday afternoon. After footage was reviewed by officials, Thompson was deemed to have misplaced her ball by about an inch and thus had breached Rule 20-7c. She was given a two-stroke penalty for the infraction and an additional two-stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Officials informed Thompson of the retrospective penalties after she had bogeyed the 12th hole and the American dropped from being two ahead at that stage to two behind. All players were notified of the infraction.
Ryu birdied the par-five 18th to set the clubhouse target of 14-under-par, which Thompson matched after narrowly missing an eagle for the outright win. The playoff was conducted on the same hole and Ryu ended the match by holing a six-foot birdie putt.
Thompson was visibly shaken after being informed of the penalty but showed great character to birdie the 13th hole and almost win the title outright.
“I wasn’t expecting that on whatever hole that was. I did not intentionally do that. I didn’t even realize I did that,” said Thompson about the penalty.
“I learned a lot about myself and how much fight I do have in me. Every day is a learning process and I wasn’t expecting what happened today… but it is what it is. It happens and I’ll learn from it and hopefully I’ll do better,” added the 22-year-old, who won this tournament in 2014 for her first and only Major so far.