Lexi Thompson was hit hard at the ANA Inspiration when it came to the attention of the organisers that she did not place her ball down correctly after marking her ball the green. She was told a day later during her final round about the infringement that occurred during her third round.
It turned out that an armchair viewer contacted the powers that be via email to highlight Lexi’s error. A four-shot penalty for Thompson followed a penalty that ultimately cost her a major. What followed was a sense of outrage that this was allowed to happen.
Some will say that rules are rules and that the armchair viewer was well within their rights to point out the mistake by Thompson. However, many also were quick to state that officials, her playing partner and many others, including Thompson herself, missed it. That is the nature of sport. Sometimes things go wrong but we should never forget that events are well officiated and can happen in the blink of an eye. Without the relentless video replays, officials act within the rules in real time.
It was incidents like this that brought about a rule change when it comes to televised events. As of January 1st 2018, tours will no longer accept calls or emails from viewers watching at home. Instead, each event will dedicate a rules official to monitor all tournament television and apply the rules directly and quickly at the event.
Announcing the new measure, Thomas Pagel from the USGA said: “The message is, have confidence in those conducting the event that if you’ve seen it, they’ve seen it, and there’s no need for anyone to call in what they think they have seen.”
In other words, “We’ve got this...just sit back, relax and enjoy the golf.”