Lexi Thompson Loses L.P.G.A. Major After Surprise Four-Stroke Penalty

“I wasn’t expecting what happened today,” Thompson said afterward as tears rolled down her face.

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South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu defeated Thompson by birdieing the first extra hole at the ANA Inspiration, the L.P.G.A.’s first major of the year.

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Jeff Gross/Getty Images

“But I’ll learn from it,’’ she added.

The long-hitting Thompson was told about the penalty as she made her way to the 13th tee after a bogey at 12 had whittled her lead. An L.P.G.A. rules official walked alongside her and explained the four-stroke penalty: two strokes for improperly replacing her ball on the second-to-last green of her third round, which meant she had then played the ball from the wrong spot, and two more for signing an incorrect scorecard.

A television viewer had contacted tournament officials as the final round was underway to bring attention to Thompson’s actions Saturday on the 17th green, when she marked her ball and placed it back down roughly a half-inch from the original spot. Thompson’s initial reaction to being told about the penalty, as captured during the final-round television broadcast, was, “Is this a joke or something?” Shaking her head, she added, “That’s just ridiculous.”

Battling her emotions the rest of the way, Thompson somehow bounced back to play the final six holes in two under par. “I am proud just the way I played coming in,” said Thompson, who told the rules official, Sue Witters, that she had not intentionally placed her ball in the wrong spot on the hole in question.

It did not matter. In the rules of golf, action trumps intent. If not for a rules change last year, Thompson would have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. “For her to come back, I got goose bumps talking about it,” said Suzann Pettersen,…

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