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2017 Awards: Landmark Moment #1

As 2017 draws to a close it’s time to reflect on some of the highlights and low-lights of another fascinating year in the game. 

We’ll be nominating Bouquets, Brickbats and Landmark Moments over the Christmas period including the most talked about controversy of the year involving America’s Lexi Thompson.

Thompson interacts with fans on the 72nd hole of the ANA Inspiration.

It easily qualifies as the biggest controversy of 2017 but will also be remembered as a landmark moment in the game, Lexi Thompson’s four shot penalty at the year’s first major eventually ushering in a change to the rules of golf.

As she left the 12th green during the final round of the ANA Inspiration in April Thompson was informed she would be penalised four strokes for a rules breach which occurred Saturday afternoon.

From two shots in front at the time the popular American suddenly found herself two behind with six holes to play.

The infraction had come to light thanks to a TV viewer who emailed tournament organisers as Thompson and final round playing partner Suzann Pettersen were on the 7th hole.

After reviewing the tape, officials deemed Thompson had indeed replaced her ball incorrectly on the 17th green Saturday and needed to add two strokes to her third-round score.

The double whammy came for signing an incorrect scorecard, Thompson attesting to a 67 that should have been 69 and costing her a further two strokes to make her Saturday score 71.

Despite the shock of the news, Thompson fought bravely over the closing stretch and posted three birdies and a bogey to eventually tie with South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu.

Ryu won the sudden death play-off but it was Thompson who stole the headlines as fans and commentators alike heaped ridicule on the game’s rules.

Most were outraged by two issues: that a TV viewer could ‘call-in’ a rules breach not detected by anyone on site, coupled with the notion of penalising a player for signing an incorrect scorecard that they could not have known was incorrect at the time.

A working group was quickly established in the wake of the uproar to review how incidents such as that involving Thompson should best be dealt with and the result is two significant changes to the rules of the game.

As of January 1, 2018, officials will no longer accept notifications of rules breaches reported by TV viewers. Instead, there will be a tournament staffer designated to watch the broadcast and note any potential rules issues.

Additionally, tournament committees now have the power to waive any penalty for a player signing an incorrect scorecard if it is deemed said player could not have known the card was incorrect at the time.

The changes have been well received by players, fans and golf media alike and while it remains to be seen if they will quell any future controversy what is not in dispute is that the ‘Lexi Thompson Rule’ is the Number One Landmark moment of 2017.

SIGNATURE HOLES: 18TH AT SANCTUARY COVE (PINES)

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