Monday, April 3

VIDEO: A Ruling Again Upstages a Major Golf Championship

Guilt by high definition and slow motion? This was not the original intent
of the Rules of Golf.

SO YEON RYU WON THE ANA INSPIRATION in a playoff with Lexi Thompson, but the cacophony surrounding the year's first major has nothing to do with Ryu and everything to do with a four-shot penalty assessed to Thompson at a late stage of the final round -- and a day after the incident occurred.

This continues to be a major problem for major golf championships, including the players, fans, tours and governing bodies. In fact, it's beyond ridiculous.

At Ron Sirak wrote:
The stain that will always hang over this tournament is that for the third time in less than a year, one of golf's major championships was marred by a rules situation that could have been avoided. This time, Thompson was the victim. It cost her a second title at the ANA, for moving her ball less than an inch. 
Someone who apparently has little going on in their life sent an email to the LPGA fan website during Sunday's final round, pointing out that Thompson had misplaced her marked ball on No. 17 in Saturday's third round.
Apparently, a rules rewrite by the USGA will address the issue that probably cost Thompson her second major title, but those simplified rules will not be implemented for a while.

What bothers me is how disruptive these incidents are to major golf championships. Once a round is over and the scorecard is signed, shouldn't it be finished and not subject to change because of an email from a TV viewer?

When nearly everyone feels terrible about what happened to Thompson (and all seem to agree that she didn't move her ball less than an inch intentionally), then how can penalizing her four shots (two for the rules infraction and two for a wrong score) be a good thing?

And yet there are different views about what happened.

AP golf writer Doug Ferguson said this on Facebook:
I'm just amazed how it gets glossed over in this LPGA rules debate that the problem started with Lexi. She marked her ball closer. That's a penalty. So the idea that a TV viewer influenced the outcome? No. Lexi influenced the outcome. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but so much of this debate is missing the point. Criticize the rule all you want, but you can't arbitrarily decide when to apply the rules ... to EVERYBODY.
I don't have a problem with TV viewers. When you're made aware of a violation, you have to act on it.
So, there you go. No sympathy for Lexi.

But Ferguson also said this: "If a rule were to be changed, I think it's prudent to have every round 'in the books' an hour after the last putt falls, instead of waiting for 72 holes (or 54) for it to be considered closed."

I agree with Ferguson's "in the books" sentiment, and I imagine many, if not most, golf observers do as well. These next-day reviews and rulings are agonizing for all and hurting the game. It's time to put an end to these rules fiascoes.


Mike Bove said...

I do have a problem with TV viewers.
I do have a problem with LPGA, PGA, and tournament officials.
I believe there is an official with every playing group. If so, that is where any complaint or decision should start and end.
That said, I would not have a problem if all players, leader to last, were under the same scrutiny and slo-mo zoom lens.

Brian Kuehn said...

Ms. Thompson failed to replace her ball to the spot where it originally rested. It is not that hard to replace a marked ball to its original resting spot. I read her "tweet" statement. She never acknowledged that she made an error in replacing the ball and that such an error correctly results in a penalty.

She can argue against the delayed nature, how the violation was reported, etc... At the end of the day, though, she screwed up and needs to accept that the error was hers.

The Armchair Golfer said...

Yes, Brian, a missed opportunity to admit her mistake.