(Reuters) - Lexi Thompson was denied a major victory in the cruellest of fashions at the ANA Inspiration on Sunday after she was hit with a four-stroke penalty for a rules infraction the previous day then lost to South Korean Ryu So-yeon in a playoff for the title.
Thompson was leading by three shots when she was informed of a rule breach stemming from the way she replaced her ball on the 17th green during Saturday's third round.
She incurred a two-shot penalty for the breach and another two-shot penalty for returning an incorrect scorecard.
The LPGA said in a statement that a television viewer had alerted them to the infraction on Sunday and that after a review they had informed Thompson of the breach.
“Is this a joke? Oh my God. Four-stroke penalty, that’s just ridiculous,” Thompson said when notified of the penalty.
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The American was in tears as she teed off on the 13th hole but gathered herself and birdied it. She then had an eagle putt on the last to win in regulation but had to settle for a birdie and a playoff with Ryu.
Ryu then birdied the 18th, the first playoff hole, to win the title.
"I just ... cannot believe this situation,” said Ryu, who captured her second career major.
“During play, I didn't even check the leaderboard, but I thought Lexi played really, really well.”
Thompson was also looking to capture her second major, having won the ANA Inspiration in 2014.
“I did not intentionally do that (violation). So to the officials, or whatever called in, that was not my purpose. I didn't even realize I did that,” Thompson said.
South Korean Park In-bee, Minjee Lee of Australia and Suzann Pettersen of Norway finished tied for third at 13-under.
Michelle Wie finished sixth at 11-under while defending champion Lydia Ko finished tied for 11th at seven-under.
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Peter Rutherford)