LPGA player cleared of penalty by on-course official, only to be assessed a stroke after video review

May 7, 2018

Nicole Broch Larsen, a 23-year-old player from Denmark, thought she was leading the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout on Saturday, but after her round she was assessed a one-stroke penalty for causing her ball to move — even though she had been initially cleared of the violation by an on-course official.

According to an Associated Press report, Broch Larsen played 32 holes on Saturday when bad weather caused the cancellation of the first two rounds of the tournament. On her second-to-last hole of the day, Broch Larsen sought a ruling from an on-course official when she thought her ball had moved. She was cleared and ended the day at seven under par — a one-shot lead at the time.

Unfortunately, she was later informed that a video review of the situation revealed that she had in fact caused her ball to move — a violation of Rule 18-2, which carries a penalty of one stroke. Because she was following the direction of the on-course official at the time of the violation, she wasn’t assessed an additional stroke for playing her ball from the wrong spot.

The so-called “Lexi Rule” that limits the use of video in rulings was not applicable in this situation, because Decision 34-3/10 only protects players from violations that could not be reasonably seen by the naked eye, or when players are required to use their best judgment to “determine a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location on the course to use in applying the Rules.”

The penalty didn’t end up affecting the outcome of the tournament, which was won by Sung Hyun Park at 11 under par. Broch Larsen ended up tied for 12th at five under.