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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 280
Most onlookers, including a host of players, agreed that Thompson had failed to correctly replace her marked ball (Rule 20-7c). They could understand why she was hit with a two-shot penalty – that wasn’t the issue and there was very little argument there. What caused so much controversy was the resources the LPGA utilised to arrive at that decision; how and when they informed Thompson of the breach or rules; and the additional two-shot penalty that was heaped on top for signing an incorrect scorecard. Tiger Woods led a hoard of players who were outraged by the decision and expressed his displeasure via Twitter: “Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes ... Let’s go Lexi, win this thing anyway.” Karrie Webb was also quick to share her thoughts, tweeting: “We have had two of our last four majors determined by HD slo-mo video replay. Is it okay that golf history is being written this way?” The R&A and USGA wasted no time and introduced Decision 34-3/10 – which prohibits penalties that can’t be seen by the naked eye – but insisted it wasn’t in reaction to the incident involving Thompson. Rightly or wrongly, all eyes will be on the World No.2 this week as she makes her highly-anticipated return to Rancho Mirage. She is in solid form and she will be hungrier than anyone else in the field. Thompson won the championship in 2014 and hasn’t failed to post a top-10 result here since; finishing runner-up last year, fifth in 2016 and seventh in 2015. So she clearly holds a special affinity for the event. But will she be able to handle the pressure? The 2017 Race to CME Globe winner will need to overcome a lot. Along with the memories of last year, Thompson will face challenges from each of the world’s top-33 players – including defending champion and World No.3, So Yeon Ryu, who was full of empathy when she accepted the 2017 title. “It doesn’t feel right and I can’t believe this situation,” Ryu said. “Every player is so dedicated and we always work hard to bring our A-game, so it hurts me as well ... It’s kind of a weird feeling, but at the same time I’m very proud of myself.” There’s a lot of mental hurdles standing between Thompson and a second major title at the ANA Inspiration. There’s no doubting that. But she has proven her grit. Not many players would have responded as effectively as she did after being handed that devastating piece of news last year. Thompson has unfinished business – and it won’t surprise many if she’s leaping into Poppie’s Pond this Sunday. COVER STORY
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