SOUTHPORT, England – The R&A and USGA will announce a change to the Rules of Golf on Tuesday that is expected to ensure a Lexi Thompson situation does not crop up in the future.
The governing bodies met at Augusta National during the Masters, where Lexi Thompson’s controversial four-shot penalty during the ANA Inspiration was discussed at great length.
Thompson incorrectly replaced her ball on the 17th hole during the third round. Thompson was only notified of the incident while walking off the 12th green in the fourth round after a TV viewer alerted LPGA officials to the infraction.
The 22-year-old was handed a two-shot penalty for incorrectly marking her ball, and another two-shot penalty for signing for an incorrect scorecard. Thompson eventually lost in a playoff to South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu.
The incident sparked a huge debate. Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam and other leading players took to social media to slam the decision, and complain about allowing TV viewers to influence the outcomes of tournaments. Phil Mickelson said during the Masters that Thompson should be handed the trophy.
R&A officials refused to comment on the upcoming announcement at a media day at Royal Birkdale ahead of this year’s Open Championship. However, Golfweek understands the governing bodies will implement a decision Tuesday with immediate effect to make sure no player goes through the same experience as Thompson.
The governing bodies could rule that TV viewers cannot call in rules infractions. Alternatively, they could decree that no retrospective penalties can be added once a scorecard has been signed.
The Rules of Golf are currently undergoing a fundamental change in time for 2019. However, the Thompson situation created so much controversy that it’s no surprise the governing bodies have decided to act swiftly.