Golf: Lexi Thompson seeks to atone for ANA loss

Lexi Thompson in a promotional shot for the UL International Crown, a biennial team competition played by the best women from the world's top eight countries. The American will be hoping to add to her only Major crown this week. She won the ANA Inspi
Lexi Thompson in a promotional shot for the UL International Crown, a biennial team competition played by the best women from the world's top eight countries. The American will be hoping to add to her only Major crown this week. She won the ANA Inspiration, then called the Kraft Nabisco Championship, in 2014.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Haunted by last year's 4-stroke penalty, Lexi glad new rule will lessen possibility of repeat

LOS ANGELES • One year on, Lexi Thompson admits she is still traumatised by the controversial rules violation that cost her victory at the ANA Inspiration last year.

She was docked four strokes for replacing her ball in the wrong spot after marking it during the third round and eventually lost to South Korean Ryu So Yeon.

"That night was extremely rough," the world No. 2 said on Tuesday, two days before teeing off at the 2018 edition in Rancho Mirage, California, for the first LPGA Major of the year.

"I was screaming, crying. I had nightmares about it and I still occasionally do. It has been rough. I stayed off social media after that because (the) media was blowing it up and making me feel terrible. I had to let it go and let time pass."

She was on the 13th tee in the final round and leading by three shots when she was informed of the four-stroke penalty - based on a phone call from a member of the public who had spotted the golfer replacing her ball in the wrong spot the day before.

She was docked two shots for the wrongly replaced ball and a further two for signing an incorrect scorecard.

The incident prompted a global rule change limiting video evidence that has been called the "Lexi rule".

Now players can no longer be penalised for an infraction that cannot be seen with the naked eye nor can they be penalised for signing an incorrect scorecard if they were not aware it was wrong.

The American, whose nine LPGA victories include one Major title, voiced her approval of the change, and said she was ready to move on.

"I'm just happy the rule changed so nobody else can be put through what I was put through last year," she added.

Meanwhile, Kim In Kyung will put her old putter back in the bag after being reunited with the stolen club last week.

The putter was one of several clubs Kim got back more than a month after her entire set went missing following a flight.

Kim used a complete set of new clubs at last week's Kia Classic, but has decided to go with the old putter at the Mission Hills Country Club today.

"I have just spoken to a policeman. He told me they found out who did it," the 29-year-old told Reuters on Tuesday.

The clubs disappeared from the baggage claim area at San Diego Airport after she took an American Airlines flight in January and were later found at a local second-hand sports store by some golf fans who saw Kim talking about her predicament in an TV interview.

"It's been distracting for a while. I feel better with my clubs," the reigning British Open champion said.

The personable Kim, who is better known by her initials, I.K., is perhaps still best known for a missed one-foot putt at Mission Hills six years ago.

The South Korean subsequently lost a play-off to her compatriot Yoo Sun Young and she has had to learn to live with the constant reminders of her mistake.

However, the first Major victory of her career last year has at least directed the arc of her career narrative in a more positive direction.

"People will always remind me but I'm okay with it," she added.

"I stopped really caring about what other people think, because I wanted to keep playing golf."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2018, with the headline 'Thompson seeks to atone for ANA loss'. Print Edition | Subscribe