AIG Women's Open
August 21, 2020

Lexi Thompson got accused of improving her lie by social media, R&A explains why she wasn't at fault

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Richard Heathcote/R&A

The R&A addressed a rules situation that occurred Friday during the second round of the Women's Open Championship. It occurred on the 16th hole at Royal Troon, as Lexi Thompson’s ball came to rest in the right rough, next to a tuft of long grass. It created an awkward address position.

Video of her addressing the ball started to circulate on social media, as fans questioned if the way she brushed her iron head against the long grass before she addressed and hit the ball was considered to be her improving her lie, and therefore a breach of Rule 8.1. Here's video of the situation:

Social-media commentators made their own decisions, but the only ruling that matters is that of the R&A. After reviewing the tape, the R&A made a statement, ruling that Thompson’s actions were not in breach of Rule 8.1.

Here's the R&A statement:

"Yesterday, as part of its normal TV review procedures, The R&A viewed Lexi Thompson’s actions prior to playing her second shot at the 16th hole in round one of the AIG Women’s Open.

Following a discussion between Chief Referee David Rickman and the player prior to her signing her scorecard it was determined that, although the player had moved a growing natural object behind her ball, it had returned to its original position.

Therefore, the lie of the ball was not improved and there was no breach of Rule 8.1."

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So while Thompson did brush her club against that tuft of grass, the grass moving back to its original position makes the motion allowable. She would’ve had to do something that improved the lie conditions for it to have been a penalty, like stamping the grass down or bending it -- anything that results in the grass not returning to its original position. Since Thompson did not change the lie, she did not do anything wrong, the R&A ruled.

Thompson shot 78-75 in the first two rounds, during high winds and rain at Royal Troon.