TV viewer's day-old email costs Lexi Thompson a major championship

Thompson was three shots clear in the lead after the 12th hole of her final round at Mission Hills Country Club, when officials informed her she had been penalised two strokes for incorrectly replacing her ball on the 17th green the day before.

Thompson was advised of the penalty midway through the final round, after a TV viewer notified officials of a ball placement error made by her on the 17th green in the third round.

Ryu said she "cannot believe the situation" after the round. "I don't think you could find one player that would say otherwise".

American Lexi Thompson, one of the darlings of the sport, lost in a playoff after being penalized four shots Sunday for a rules violation that occurred Saturday.

"Wasn't expecting that on whatever hole that was", Thompson said about the penalty in the interview with the LPGA after the round.

I don't want anything that happened yesterday to take away from Seo Yun's victory.

After gathering her composure when her three-shot lead vanished, the 22-year-old rallied to card a closing five-under 67 and tie at 14-under 274 with South Korea's So Yeon Ryu, who had a 68.

It was Pettersen's eighth top-10 finish in the LPGA's first major of the season, yet she has never won.

Thompson appeared to be on the verge of winning the 2017 ANA Inspiration on Sunday based on her four scorecards from the tournament, but after a fan who had been watching from home emailed the LPGA, the golfer's scorecard was changed, according to CBS Sports.

But this event will be remembered for the extraordinary sight of LPGA rules official Sue Witters regretfully explaining the penalty to Thompson while she walked to the 13th tee.

"I can't go to bed knowing that I let a rule slide", she added.

"To penalise her the two strokes and then two for signing an incorrect scorecard... you talk about following the letter of the law and they did, but did they do it in the spirit of the game?"

Assured it wasn't, she responded: "This is ridiculous".

Thompson had previously won the ANA Inspiration - once known as the Dinah Shore Tournament - in 2014.

Thompson choked up slightly, but gathered herself and mashed a drive.

Golf fans on the course and the internet erupted with outrage when the LPGA's decision became understood.

Thompson's support extended to the digital realm, where Tiger Woods immediately offered his thoughts on Twitter.

Thompson released a statement on her Instagram following the controversy explaining she wasn't aware of her error, and thanking fans for their fervent support in what was obviously a hard moment.

But Britain's Lee Westwood posted: "You know all this rules confusion could have been averted if Lexi just mastered the art of marking and replacing the ball in the same spot".

  • Julie Sanders