So Yeon Ryu won the ANA Inspiration on Sunday. But Lexi Thompson’s performance was inspirational.
Thompson was in command during the final round of the LPGA’s first major when officials informed her that she would be penalized four strokes after a TV viewer e-mailed the LPGA alleging a rules infraction had occurred in the third round. As video evidence demonstrated, Thompson improperly replaced her marked ball before holing a par putt on No. 17, thereby incurring a two-stroke penalty for playing from the wrong place. She incurred two more strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard.
“Is this a joke?” was Thompson’s unforgettable reaction.
Her response was heroic. She birdied three of the last six holes, including the 18th, to get into a playoff, inspiring “Lexi, Lexi” chants from the Mission Hills Country Club gallery.
That she lost the playoff is incidental. Thompson showed uncommon resilience in the face of unusual adversity.
In Texas, Russell Henley beat the rain and all challengers to win the Shell Houston Open, thereby earning a Masters berth. Henley, 27, made 10 birdies in a final-round 65 and figures to arrive in his native Georgia with positive mojo.
The same can’t be said for Tiger Woods, who announced Friday night that he won’t play at Augusta National this week. Twenty years after his maiden Masters triumph, Woods will be a mere dinner guest, his back rehab not allowing him time to get tournament ready, according to his statement.
Woods, 41, will miss The Masters for the third time in four years. Sadly, he may be closer to Willie Mays stumbling in the outfield than to recapturing competitive form.