Women’s NCAA and LPGA — A Range of Reactions from this Past Weekend



Stunned, shocked, disbelieving, and amazed are only a few of my reactions following two events this past weekend, both involving women’s sports.

Obviously they have no connection to the men’s NCAA championship basketball game since the result will be known when most of you read this. I did have a hunch Oregon would prevail, but two of the four number one seeds, North Carolina and Gonzaga squared off for the title. Congrats to the new champion.

No, 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, the school they crushed just a year ago. Not only that, the end came in the most dramatic way possible. A 3-point shot at the buzzer in overtime.

Morgan William is the name of the heroine.
What a head-shaking event. As unexpected as they come. Yes, UConn finally lost a women’s basketball game.
It shows you, that stunning upsets do come most often out-of-the-blue. Not anticipated. They catch you by surprise. This one certainly did.
How poetic this turned out to be. In the men’s Final Four, two teams had never been to the charmed circle. One of them was South Carolina, truly a Cinderella as a 7th seed and knocking off Duke, Baylor and Florida. But their dream ended in the Arizona desert when Gonzaga proved too much for the Gamecocks.

But lurking in the wings were South Carolina’s women’s team. It may not have been Cinderella, but there was a happy ending in Columbia, when the Lady Gamecocks whipped Mississippi State, the conquerors of mighty UConn, and captured the NCAA championship.

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 that likely cost a player the championship.
I’m not kidding. Lexi Thompson was leading the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California 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 truly 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 on site and then a viewer who has no connection to an event they are watching 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.

Another reality is that there cannot be any way shape or form for spectators, whether they be present at an event, or watching on television to have ANY effect on what transpires at an athletic competition,

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.
That’s it.

I’m still in shock over both stories from last weekend.


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