Lexi Thompson, ranked second in LPGA winnings with more than five million in career earnings and seven tournament wins (one major), experienced the most unusual golf penalty ever assessed. In the lead at the 2017 ANA Inspiration at the close of play on Saturday, Thompson returned to continue play on Sunday. As she rounded the 12th hole in the final round, the LPGA officials informed her that she would be assessed a four stroke penalty for a violation from the previous day.

A member of the viewing public had analyzed and re-analyzed a portion of Thompson's play from the previous day and saw a potential rule violation.

That individual contacted the LPGA, who, after some deliberation, agreed with the viewer and assessed a two stroke penalty for improper ball replacement, plus an additional two stroke penalty to Thompson for incorrectly signing her scorecard.

Sports and the impact of technology

LPGA and PGA player outrage erupted after the officials assessed the retro-active penalty. Support for Thompson from titans of golf - including Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods - was swift. In addition, LPGA officials agreed that the violation was not premeditated.

It was only through the use of advanced technology that any infraction on the part of Thompson was found. And, it is only through tools like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, email, and texting that fans, sitting in the comfort of their own homes, can view footage of a tournament over and over, finding the slightest possible infractions, which formerly would have gone unnoticed - as this one originally did.

The difference between right and ethical

Certainly - according to the most rigorous application of the rules - the LPGA made the right decision. A rule is a rule and should be applied evenly and fairly across the board to all players. These particular rules have no time limit; thus, an after-the-fact review can be utilized.

However, there is a difference between what is right and what is ethical.

Fans who watch baseball games see strikes and balls called both correctly and incorrectly. Likewise, it is similar with fans who watch basketball and see foul calls and no-foul calls.

The play of golf needs to move along similarly to other sports. The action needs to be judged in real-time using the paid officials who are on site to apply the rules.

Reversing scores after the fact through the use of information from the television-viewing fan base may be right, the ethics of the process are questionable at best.