Stunned, shocked, disbelieving, and amazed are only a few of my reactions following two events this past weekend, both involving women’s sports. This is about a women’s NCAA basketball semi-final game Friday and an LPGA tournament that ended Sunday.
First the hoops. There was no way Connecticut was ever going to lose a game. I don’t mean in this year’s tournament, I mean ever. Didn’t you think so too? You can’t call the Huskies a dynasty. It’s been bigger than that! It’s been a way of life. It just seemed that every time Geno Auriemma’s teams took the court they would not only prevail but win by a million. No contest. Every time. They have been fun to watch, anyway, because they are a true, consistent, machine. In this day of improbability in the sporting world, the one thing you could count on was the UConn women dominating every basketball game they played. In fact, last year in the NCAA championship they beat a good Mississippi State team by 60 points.
Then came Friday night.
I still don’t believe it. In one of the two semi-final matchups, Connecticut, riding an obscene 111-game winning streak, were finally beaten. They were defeated by, of all schools, Mississippi State. Not only that, the end came in the most dramatic way possible. A three-point shot at the buzzer in overtime. Morgan William is the name of the heroine. What a head-shaking event.
The other shocker happened Sunday when a television viewer emailed officials in an LPGA tournament to point out a rules infraction that occurred the day before, which likely cost a player the championship.
I’m not kidding. Lexi Thompson was leading the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, CA, by three shots with six holes to play in the final round when a tour official informed the 22-year old that she was penalized four strokes as a result of a violation committed Saturday.
Apparently, Thompson, in marking her ball with a coin one foot from the hole on the 17th green, replaced the ball one inch out of position. You can’t make this up. When the viewer noted the violation and called officials, they checked the video from Saturday and informed Thompson she would be penalized two shots for the violation and two shots for submitting an incorrect scorecard. To no one’s surprise, Thompson lost her composure. Wouldn’t you? She did manage to hang in and force a playoff with So Yeon Ryu, which she eventually lost. The bizarre developments sparked outrage by fans at the Dinah Shore Course, fans on the Internet, and everyone who has any sense at all. Even a viewer named Tiger Woods expressed his dismay, tweeting, “Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes.”
This is mind-boggling. This is carrying instant replay too far. There is something wrong when no violation of a rule is spotted by an official onsite and then a viewer who has no connection to an event can determine the result. I know, in golf, a game of utmost sportsmanship, it is generally up to a player to be honest and point out violations. It has happened countless times, and it is truly a bedrock of the sport.
Lexi Thompson said she didn’t realize she had made the mistake, not meaning to gain an edge. She was only one foot from the hole, a tap-in. Most golfers don’t even mark a ball that close. They just tap it in. But Thompson didn’t. The reality here is that she broke a rule, and whether she realized it or not, didn’t report it.
The only way the events that occurred at that LPGA tournament should have happened would be if an official spotted something, or a player admitted committing a violation.
I’m still in shock over both stories from last weekend.