Rule Tip of the Week: Narco Lexi?

As pointed out by The Dan Patrick Show the morning after the conclusion of the LPGA’s 2017 ANA Inspiration tournament, the term “narc” is “a person that turns you in for something you did wrong; specifically to any type of authority figure like parents, cops, teachers, boss, etc.” That being the case, then “NarcoLexi” might be the term that fans of Lexi Thompson would associate with the individual who sent an email alerting the LPGA of a possible Rules violation committed by Lexi Thompson late in her third round.

On the 17th green of her third round, Lexi marked the position of her ball, lifted it briefly, and then placed it in a slightly different position. The two adjacent images, courtesy of NBC Golf coverage, illustrate what happened. The first image was captured just before Lexi lifted her ball after marking its position with a coin. In this image, the coin she used to mark the position of the ball is not visible. However, in the second image, the coin is clearly visible. This image was captured just after Lexi had placed her ball, and was about to remove her ball-marker.


The careless placing of her ball on a different spot from which the ball was lifted, meant that Lexi played from a wrong place when she putted her ball into the hole. Rule 20-3a [Placing and Replacing by Whom and Where] states, in part, “The ball must be placed on the spot from which it was lifted or moved. … If a ball to be replaced is placed other than on the spot from which it was lifted … and the error is not corrected as provided in Rule 20-6, the player incurs the general penalty … two strokes in stroke play … for a breach of the applicable Rule.” Also, Rule 20-7c [Playing from Wrong Place: Stroke Play] points out, “If a competitor makes a stroke from a wrong place, he incurs a penalty of two strokes under the applicable Rule.


Lexi was unaware that that she had putted from a wrong place on the 17th green, so she did not include the two-stroke penalty in her score for Hole 17. Thus, she ended up in breach of Rule 6-6d [Scoring in Stroke Play: Wrong Score for Hole] because she signed an incorrect score card. Had this situation occurred prior to 2016, Lexi would have been disqualified!


Introduced in 2016, the Exception to Rule 6-6d states, “If a competitor returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken due to failure to include one or more penalty strokes that, before returning his score card, he did not know he had incurred, he is not disqualified. In such circumstances, the competitor incurs the penalty prescribed by the applicable Rule and an additional penalty of two strokes for each hole at which the competitor has committed a breach of Rule 6-6d.


Once the LPGA became aware on Sunday of the third-round infraction, it was obliged to inform Lexi of the four-stroke penalty. The LPGA gave her the bad news as she was heading for the 13th teeing ground. In a matter of seconds, Lexi saw a two-stroke lead turn into a two-stroke deficit. Despite the devastating news, Lexi bravely fought back and nearly won the event, narrowly missing an eagle putt on the 72nd hole. She subsequently lost to South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu who birdied the first extra hole.


As a footnote, if the LPGA had not learned of the infraction until, say Monday, after Lexi had been awarded the trophy Sunday afternoon, then Lexi would still be the winner of the event.   According to Rule 34-1b [Claims and Penalties: Stroke Play], in general, a penalty must not be imposed after the competition has closed, i.e., when the result has been officially announced. In Lexi’s case of playing from a wrong place, she could not be disqualified after the fact because she was unaware that she had played from a wrong place on the 17th hole of her third round and, thus, did not know that she had incurred a penalty on that hole when she returned her score card for that round.

April 2017 Rules