RULES
Inside the Lexi Thompson Penalty April 3, 2017

Click the photo above to view the USGA's Thomas Pagel on Golf Channel explaining the Lexi Thompson Rules situation.

In the final round of the LPGA Tour’s ANA Inspiration on Sunday, Lexi Thompson held a two-stroke lead through 12 holes when she was approached by an LPGA Tour referee. On the 17th green in the third round the day before, Thompson had marked her ball on the putting green, lifted it and then replaced it in a slightly different position. Thompson’s situation was complicated by the fact that no one, including Thompson, noticed she had played from a wrong place until long after she had signed her score card. 

The USGA and The R&A have received questions on the ruling that occurred with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration. The below information reviews the facts of the ruling and further clarifies how the Rules of Golf applied in this situation:

During the final round, Lexi was assessed four penalty strokes for two breaches of the rules that occurred the day before during the third round:

  • On the 17th hole in that round, she replaced her ball on the wrong spot and then played the ball from that wrong place. This was a breach of Rule 16-1b, which imposes a two-stroke penalty.
  • Because Lexi did not know she had incurred this penalty, she did not include it when she signed and returned her score card at the end of the third round, which was a further breach of the rules under Rule 6-6d. Before 2016 this would have resulted in her disqualification. Under a 2016 rule change, Rule 6-6d now has an exception so that when the reason for the score card error was that the player did not include a penalty she did not know she had incurred, the player will receive an additional two-stroke penalty rather than being disqualified.


The LPGA learned of this breach after reviewing video evidence that was brought to its attention during the final round. The LPGA then correctly ruled that Lexi would receive a total of four penalty strokes, two strokes for playing from a wrong place and two additional strokes for returning the incorrect score card. These types of situations do not occur frequently, but when they do, the committee’s responsibility is to consider the evidence provided and apply the Rules accordingly. This was obviously a highly unfortunate situation which Lexi handled with poise and professionalism.

As part of their Rules Modernization initiative, the USGA and The R&A have been discussing the use of video evidence and have developed a proposed new standard to limit its use when a player is estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance. Proposed new Rule 1.3a(2) provides that ”so long as the player does all that can be reasonably expected under the circumstances to make an accurate estimation or measurement, the player’s reasonable judgment will be accepted even if later shown to be wrong by other information (such as video technology).” When the proposed new Rules take effect in 2019, the committee would apply this new standard in determining whether there would be any penalty in this type of situation.

For more information or to provide feedback on the proposed new Rules visit www.usga.org/rules.

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