A questionable scoring change cost Lexi Thompson a win at the 2017 ANA Inspiration on Sunday, allowing So Yeon Ryu to win in a playoff.
This is her second career major title after winning the 2011 U.S. Open.
Thompson suffered a four-stroke penalty from Saturday that wasn't assessed until late Sunday, taking away her lead. Although she rallied to force a playoff, Ryu earned a birdie on the 19th hole to secure the victory.
She followed tradition with her celebration:
Here are the final results from Mission Hill Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California:
|2017 ANA Inspiration Final Leaderboard|
|1||So Yeon Ryu||-14||-1|
Note: Full payouts from the $2.7 million purse will be added when announced.
Thompson came into the day as the leader at minus-13, two strokes ahead of Suzann Pettersen.
At least, that was until a penalty led a four-shot swing late in the round. Randall Mell of Golf Channel described the situation:
The LPGA provided a statement on the incident:
Her 67 from the third round turned into a 71, and her two-stroke lead with only a few holes remaining turned into a two-stroke deficit.
Thompson responded with birdies on No. 13 and No. 15 to remain in the match:
Of course, Ryu also presented quite a challenge. She was flawless Sunday with four birdies and zero bogeys to post a 68, finishing all four rounds under 70.
Her birdie on No. 18 gave her the lead going into the clubhouse and put the pressure on Thompson and Petterson in the last group.
Thompson once again came through with a big shot to put herself in position:
While she couldn't make the eagle for the win, she at least forced the playoff with the win. Petterson, meanwhile, missed her birdie opportunity to tie the duo at minus-14 and settled for a tie for third.
In the playoff, Ryu sent her drive right down the fairway while Thompson's was off to the right. This was enough of a difference to give the Korean star the advantage throughout the hole.
She knocked in her birdie and came through with the highly controversial win:
Stina Sternberg of Golf Digest described the outcome:
While there will be plenty of debate, Ryu will go down as the winner at the first major of the year.
The next event on the schedule is the Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club in Hawaii in two weeks. However, the top players will have plenty of time to relax before the next major in late June.
An emotional Thompson discussed her ability to bounce back from the penalty after the round.
"It's great to have the fanbase that I do, and they got me through the whole round," Thompson said Golf Channel. "It's unfortunate what happened, I did not mean that at all. I didn't realize I did that. I fought strong through the finish, and it was great to see the fans behind me."
Fellow competitor Cristie Kerr also came to her defense.
"This is wrong," she said, per Mell. "Where is the discretion? Where is the honor? This kind of stuff has to stop. This makes golf look bad."
This won't prevent Ryu from call herself the champion, but the win certainly comes with controversy.