In an unfortunate turn of events, Lexi Thompson had a major stolen from her because of an overzealous viewer at home. This is not the first time viewers have called in penalties on professional golfers, but this begs the question, should it be allowed?
Lexi Thompson misplaced her ball after marking it and ended up signing a wrong scorecard, which the LPGA docked her 4-strokes for with six holes to go. With technology today, the officials used slow motion along with their video review, that showed her ball was clearly put down in a different spot. They had to slow it down so much because her balls moves maybe a fraction of an inch.
Maybe she moved her hand forward in the process of putting her hand down, but it is almost impossible to truly put your ball back in the exact same place it was. Sure with slow motion you can see every detail, but if the rules official didn’t see it at that time, what makes a man or women on their couch the right to make the call?
The first time this happened, was back in 1987 at the Andy Williams Open. Viewers notified officials that Craig Stadler had placed a towel underneath his knees while playing in dewy grass, which apparently is a penalty. He was later disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. *Players, as of 2016, are no longer disqualified for signing incorrect scorecards, and instead receive a two-stroke penalty.
Padraig Harrington was in a similar position to Lexi Thompson in a European Tournament, when a viewer notified the officials that Harrigton’s ball moved when he marked it on the green. He was disqualified for not assessing himself a penalty and signing an incorrect scorecard.
Following the first round of the 2011 Tournament of Champions, a viewer called in a violation by Camilo Villegas. A TV viewer noticed Villegas had swatted away a few blades of grass while his ball was still moving and called in the penalty. What do you think happened next? He was DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Last but not least, Tiger Woods was a victim of a viewers sense of entitlement. Tiger was assessed a two-stroke penalty, and nearly thrown out of the Masters Saturday round because a television viewer spotted him making an illegal drop on the 15th hole of Friday’s round and alerted the tournament. The decision took officials 16 hours to mull over and make a decision, when they finally decided to give Woods the penalty. He did not get DQ’d from the tournament because the officials took blame for the lengthy decision making. Woods started the day with a 3-shot lead and ended the major at T-5.
So, should viewers be able to make penalty calls on professionals? In a game of self policing and rules officials, does the game need people at home to pick up the slack or is this a flaw of the professional side to golf? In no other sport would they listen to someone on the sideline, even if they were right. That’s not the point. The point is, how can a professional sport be taken any less seriously, when they take penalty calls from viewers?