The LPGA Tour has found itself caught up in another news-making penalty situation. Over the weekend at the weather-shortened at the Volunteers of America Texas Classic, Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen was retroactively penalized one stroke for causing her golf ball to move on the par-5 fourth hole.
The weather did not allow Broch Larsen to play on either Thursday or Friday, which resulted in the event being shorted to 36 holes. On Saturday, the 23-year-old played 32 holes and prepared to sleep on a share of the lead at 7-under par. However, before she left the course, she was informed that video review had shown that she was responsible for the ball moving.
Mad dash in Texas just got a little crazier. Turns out it’s a five-way tie for the lead after late penalty for Nicole Broch Larsen. pic.twitter.com/oQyLIT5nyX
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) May 6, 2018
Playing her second-to-last hole of the day, Broch Larsen prepared to play a pitch from short of the par-5 green. In the midst of her pre-shot routine, Broch Larsen grounded her club twice before the ball clearly moved. She called for an on-course official who interpreted the ball’s movement to have not been caused by the player.
As it was, Broch Larsen got up-and-down for birdie. When she finished her day, officials explained that it was determined that she had caused the ball to move. She would not be charged with a second penalty for playing the ball from the wrong spot because she was acting under the instruction of an official.
If you’re thinking that something seems off with the ruling, it’s because of the newly-implemented “Lexi Rule” that was adopted following the four-stroke penalty assessed to Lexi Thompson during last year’s ANA Inspiration was implemented to avoid this type of situation. However, the Lexi Rule was put into place to protect players from penalties that could not be reasonably gleaned with the naked eye.
Broch Larsen’s ball moved clearly and in direct correlation with her addressing of the ball, which under Decision 34-4/10 results in a penalty.
Larsen’s birdie was changed to a par and she finished her second and final round on Sunday morning, posting 5-under par. The penalty didn’t end up being a changing point in the tournament as Larsen finished six shots back of eventual winner Sung Hyun Park in a tie for 12th place.