It’s no secret that I’m a huge sports fan. I’ve written about March Madness here recently, and you’ll regularly see me write or post about Tennessee Volunteer Football (only a few months away!). But my love of sports goes way beyond that. I like just about any sport that you can think of, and, my wife will confirm, sports are generally on our television. Golf is no exception. I realize that many people have no love for watching golf. But it intrigues me. I don’t watch every round of every tournament by any means, but when it’s the major tournaments, that’s what is going to be on my television.
Last weekend, the LPGA made headlines with a controversial ending. I wasn’t watching it, but the first women’s major tournament of the year was being played. I found out about the headline from a fellow minister and golf friend, Dustin Fulton (If you are in the Omaha, NE area, you should check out his church, Restore Community Church). He posted about the controversy surrounding Lexi Thompson, and the circumstances that led to her losing a three stroke lead and eventually losing the tournament in a playoff, all because a fan at home got involved.
How did a fan get involved? On Sunday, during the fourth round, a fan saw a replay from the day before in which it appeared Lexi didn’t place her ball in the correct position on the green after marking it. We are talking about a fraction of an inch. No one, including Lexi caught it at the time. She made the putt, went to finish her round, and signed her scorecard. The fan at home, with the ability to watch it over and over again, saw what they thought was a rules violation, e-mailed the LPGA, which opened an investigation. They then decided to enforce a four shot penalty on Lexi for something that happened the day before. Here’s a video of the incorrect ball placement.
Four shots, two for playing from the incorrect position and then two more for signing an incorrect scorecard due to the first violation. That’s incredibly harsh. By the letter of the law, it is correct, but come on. She was penalized almost 24-hours after the fact, for something that she didn’t even realize she had done. On top of that, it wasn’t the people charged with officiating the tournament that caught the violation. It was some fan at home that had no business involving themselves in the tournament. The rule is there so you cannot gain an advantage by placing your ball in a better position. But we’re talking about fractions of inches here. So close that the player didn’t even realize what had happened.
So, while Lexi was waiting to play the 13th hole of her final round, she was approached by a rules official and told that she would be assessed a four shot penalty. At the time, she had a three shot lead, so she actually fell to one shot off the lead with this ridiculous ruling. Most would have crumbled and just gone through the motions. Not Lexi. She fought back and ended up tying for the lead at the end of regulation before losing on the first playoff hole.
I personally think it’s a shame that someone who was not even supposed to be involved in the tournament (a fan sitting at home) had a direct effect on the outcome. Again, the letter of the law stated that Lexi was at fault. But I don’t think the spirit of the law was met.
This all got me thinking about life in general. We have violated “the law” in a bunch of ways, some in ways that we have no idea that we even did anything wrong. And by the letter of the law, we are guilty. The penalty described by the law for sin is death. Even when we don’t necessarily realize that we have sinned. And we have an accuser who is calling in, telling on us. And again, by the letter of the law we are guilty. Paul states in Romas 6:23,
23 For the wages of sin is death…
Unlike the story of Lexi Thompson, we have a thing called grace. It is a free gift, offered by God to anyone that is willing to accept it. We accept the gift through faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. And the best part; He’s already paid the price for our sin. We are covered by His blood from His death, burial, and resurrection. By the letter of the law we are guilty, but by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are FORGIVEN! That’s why I am thankful that this life is not fair. It’s not fair that someone else take my place for my sins, but God’s grace does just that. And Satan can accuse us as much as He wants, God see the cleansing blood of His Son on us. Just look at Paul’s entire though from Romans 6:23. He writes;
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.