Woods & McDowell rally around defeated Lexi Thompson - Westwood not so sympathetic

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Tiger Woods lent his voice to the chorus of support for Lexi Thompson after a controversial four-stroke penalty derailed her ANA Inspiration title bid, but Lee Westwood was not so sympathetic.

The first major of the year was overshadowed by an incident that saw the American hit with a sanction after she incorrectly replaced a marked ball in Saturday's third round - an infringement spotted by an eagle-eyed television viewer.

However, the penalty was not enforced until after the 12th hole of the final round, when Thompson led by two strokes.

It left the 22-year-old - who won the tournament in 2014 - in tears and, although she regained composure to force a play-off, it was Ryu So-yeon who claimed the title after the first extra hole.

Thompson, who came up just short with an eagle putt that would have sealed a remarkable victory at the last, took to Instagram to sum up a dramatic turn of events.

 

Well it was an emotional day here for me, first off I do want to say what I had done was 100% not intentional at all I didn't realize I had done that. I want to say thank you to all the sponsors, volunteers and Mission Hills for making this week possible at the @anainspiration ! Also to the fans out there, words can't describe what you being there for me, meant to me. You helped me push thru those last holes so thank you for always believing in me. A big thanks to my caddy as well for always staying positive and being there for me when it got tough. I played some great golf so definitely a lot of positives to take from the week. Time for a very needed 3 weeks off now. Thank you everybody

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

Her gut-wrenching loss won plenty of sympathy among fellow golf professionals and other sports stars, not least of all Woods, who tweeted when play was still going on at Mission Hills Country Club.

And 2010 U.S. Open winner McDowell felt it was damning reflection on the complexity of golf's rules that such a scenario could play out on one of the biggest stages in the women's game.

Lydia Ko, who won the tournament last year and finished in a tie for 11th this time around, offered a similar sentiment.

Thompson's PGA Tour namesake Kyle Thompson directed his evident anger at the LPGA, as he added his name to the growing list of those calling for rule changes in the sport.

She did emerge with huge credit, though, for the way she handled herself after receiving news of the penalty, with tennis legend Chris Evert offering glowing praise for Thompson's conduct.

It has to be said that not everybody was singing from the same hymn sheet, so the final word goes to Lee Westwood, who knows a thing or two about heartbreak at major tournaments...