Before the penalty: Inspiration from the ANA Inspiration

Lexi Thompson’s emotional post-round interview with Golf Channel.

The golf season’s first major gripped us even before Sunday’s dramatic four-stroke penalty on Lexi Thompson. The ANA Inspiration showed us wild weather, with a sudden wind storm that delayed the finish of the first round. It reminded us that golf is for the young, with 14-year-old Lucy Li making the cut, and for the less young, with Juli Inkster also advancing to the weekend at age almost-57.

Now we’re just wondering how many phone calls and emails Augusta National can expect over perceived rules violations this week. While we wonder, here are a few notes and observations about the year’s first major.

GOLFERS ARE SO TOO ATHLETES

If there was ever any doubt that golf is a sport and not merely a game, check out the muscles and fitness of the players who spent time on this week’s leader board. Suzann Pettersen, the Korda sisters, Lexi Thompson and So Yeon Ryu look like gym rats. Even Inbee Park with belly looks firm of leg and butt.

And if anybody says golf is easy, why was Michelle Wie in so much pain on Saturday?

THE DOUBLE STANDARD LIVES ON

Greg Norman took some heat on Fox two years ago when he repeatedly referred to U.S. Women’s Open competitors as “the girls,” though Dottie Pepper and Juli Inkster had been guilty of doing the same. During Friday’s round, when Cristie Kerr appeared atop the leader board, former LPGA player Karen Stupples irked us with a comment of her own.

As one Facebook friend pointed out, everyone has a lot to think about, whether they’re married or single, moms or dads. But we’ll take that thought one step farther and guess that the poor single gal straddling the cut line from week to week, struggling to fund her time on the tour, has much more weighing on her mind than the well bankrolled Kerr.

GOLF WILL EVENTUALLY HAVE ITS WILLIAMS SISTERS

Tennis has had Venus and Serena, and it is inevitable that golf will have its sister stars competing in the final pairings of majors. Unlike when Venus and Serena play each other, this will actually be fun stuff because, except in match play, golfers are competing against the course and can therefore be supportive of each other.

Judging from the ANA Inspiration leader board, the LPGA has two tandem teams to watch.  Ariya Jutanagarn, 21, has so far outshined older but littler sister Moriya, 22. But Moriya is making a move and it’s just a matter of time that the two will be in the hunt the same week.

Then there are Jessica and Nelly Korda. Jessica, 24, has already won four times on the tour, but it was 18-year-old Nelly who captured the cameras this week. Daughters of tennis star Peter Korda, they are 5-foot-11 and 5-10, respectively. And, Golf magazine named the pair the most beautiful women in golf in 2017.

IT’S TIME TO RENAME POPPIE’S POND

It’s become a ritual, the winner’s leap. Players worried about potential overexposure wear extra undergarments or, witness Wie and Pettersen, dress in the forgiving color black.

Meanwhile, over the years, the pond has been emptied, vacuumed, sculpted, chlorinated and kept to a depth high enough to accommodate a leap yet shallow enough to prevent drowning.

Now, let’s just call it Poppie’s Pool. And in case you were wondering, here’s the experience from the leaper’s point of view.

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