Lexi Thompson admits nightmares from controversy that cost her major title
Golf rules changed after golfer was penalised for incident which took place the previous day
Lexi Thompson walking off the 18th green after So Yeon Ryu of the Republic of Korea defeated her in a playoff during the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in California on April 2nd, 2017. Photograph: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Thompson was leading by three shots during the final round when she was informed by tournament officials she would be penalised for an incident which took place the previous day.
The 23-year-old was penalised two strokes for incorrectly replacing a marked ball on the 17th green and another two for signing an incorrect scorecard, thereby dropping her a shot off the lead.
A tearful Thompson regrouped superbly to birdie the 13th and also birdied the 18th to force a play-off with Korea’s So Yeon Ryu, who won the title on the first extra hole.
“I had to dig really deep,” Thompson told a pre-tournament press conference at Mission Hills Country Club. “Honestly, the next tee shot I was crying. Basically, every tee shot there was water in my eyes.
“But the fans were the only reason why I finished the way I did. I heard them chanting my name on every shot, every tee. I heard them on the green chanting my name, and I was like, ‘I have to finish strong for them’.
“That night was extremely rough. I was screaming, crying. You know, I’ve relived it for a while. I had nightmares about it. You know, I still occasionally do. It’s been rough, but you know the fans were behind me the weeks after, the months after.
“I stayed off social media after that because media was blowing it up and making me feel terrible. So I just tried not to pay attention to any of that. I just hung out with my family, and just kind of stayed to myself, honestly, and just had to let it go and let time pass.”
A television viewer had alerted LPGA officials to the incident via email, but not until the final round at Mission Hills Country Club was well under way.
Such interventions have since been abolished by golf’s ruling bodies, while the extra penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard was also eliminated for players who signed a card believing it was correct.
“I don’t look at myself that I changed the rule,” Thompson added. “I’m just happy that the rule changed so nobody else can be put through what I was put through last year.”