Lexi Misinterprets Local Rule, Assessed Penalty

Wherever Lexi Thompson goes on a golf course, rules officials are surely nearby. 

As the fifth-ranked player in the world and the highest-ranked American in women’s professional golf, Thompson has seemingly been snake-bitten by the Rules of Golf over the past few years, including falling victim to a local ruling earlier this year in Thailand.

On Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, Thompson hit her drive on the par-5 10th hole at Brickyard Crossing wayward and the ball came to rest in the adjacent 6th fairway. Having received over an inch of rain already, the players were playing preferred lies — lift, clean and place — in their own fairway.

Failing to take into account the fact that she was no in her own fairway, Thompson picked up her ball to clean and replace, which was a one-stroke penalty, according to the LPGA Tour.

“While playing the third round of the 2018 Indy Women in Tech Championship, Lexi Thompson incurred a one-stroke penalty for breach of the preferred lies local Rule (Appendix IA Part 3b Course Conditions).

“The Committee adopted the preferred lies local Rule due to the turf conditions of the golf course after receiving over an inch of rain. The LPGA, under the local Rule, restricts the player from preferring her lie when her ball lies in a closely-mown area of a hole other than the one being played.

“During the play of hole #10, Thompson’s tee shot came to rest in the fairway of hole #6. As Thompson’s ball lay on the fairway of hole #6, she was not entitled to prefer her lie.

“She preferred her lie in breach of the local Rule but prior to playing her stroke from a wrong place (Rule 20-7), she was questioned by a Rules official regarding her actions. As she had not played her stroke from the preferred spot, she did not receive the general penalty of two-strokes under the local Rule. However, she did incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 for lifting her ball at rest without authority.”

Golf Channel’s Kay Cockerill, who was calling the action for the network, explained how an LPGA rules official ended up saving Lexi from another penalty. 

“Thankfully, (the rules official) intervened before she hit her next shot,” Cockerill reported. “Otherwise, she would have been hitting from the wrong spot, and it would have been a two-shot penalty. So, in a sense, it saved her a shot.”

Despite the penalty, the big-hitting Thompson reached the green with her next shot and two-putted for par. She would go on to shoot an 8-under par 64, but a final round 1-under par 71 ultimately left her six shots behind eventual champion S.H. Park.