AUGUSTA, Ga. — Lexi Thompson’s four-stroke penalty dominated the conversation of the golf world on Sunday and has even crept into Masters week.
While some pro golfers chimed in on social media as it happened during the final round of the ANA Inspiration, Rickie Fowler was asked if he had any thoughts on the rules debacle during his Monday press conference at the Masters.
And yes, Fowler did. Three-hundred and ninety-seven words worth.
“I think we’ve seen some stuff in the past year that is not making the game look very good at all. There’s no other sport where people can call or e‑mail in or contact officials regarding an issue,” said Fowler, who missed the ruling live due to his flight to Augusta but saw the highlights after. “I mean, there’s plenty of circumstances in plenty of other sports where a call could go a completely different way, and these decisions are left up to officials. There’s not people sitting at home dictating this or, you know, in this case, having a lot of effect on the outcome of a major. It’s not just another tournament.”
Thompson was notified of her four-stroke penalty while walking off the 12th green Sunday. She was assessed two strokes for playing from the wrong spot on the 17th green Saturday and two more strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard at the end of that round. She lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu. The LPGA was notified of the violation when a TV viewer sent an email on Sunday.
“It was really unfortunate to see kind of how it was handled,” Fowler said. “In my eyes, coming 24 hours after the fact, to me, you know, things should be handled the day of. I mean, you tee off ‑‑ once you sign your scorecard, that’s kind of it. I feel like, you know, it’s somewhat like when you look at if something were to come up Monday after the tournament, the tournament’s done. So where do things close off? If something happened Thursday in the tournament, something were to come up on Sunday, then you go back and enforce a penalty there, there’s ‑‑ it just goes back to, there shouldn’t be anyone outside of the officials being able to make this call.”
Fowler also pointed out that if every shot a professional golfer had ever taken was analyzed via video replay, “you probably can find rules infractions.”
“Now, were these people trying to do that?,” he asked. “I would be willing to bet no.”