Golf

No to TV review penalties

Top players express sympathy for Thompson; slam retrospective decision as unfair

Top golfing stars pushed yesterday morning (Singapore time) for banning television review penalties like the one that cost Lexi Thompson the first women's Major of the year.

"There's no question it should be ended," American world No. 8 Rickie Fowler said.

"I don't think you could find one player who would say otherwise."

Thompson was hit with a four-stroke penalty with six holes remaining in Sunday's final round of the LPGA's ANA Inspiration for an infraction - spotted by a television viewer - in Saturday's third round.

Despite being distraught at seeing her three-stroke lead erased, Thompson fought back to force a play-off before falling to South Korea's Ryu So Yeon.

Seventh-ranked American Justin Thomas said: "I know she was really upset and really heartbroken. I don't know how she kept going. It's a bummer."

Sympathy and outrage followed from top men's players who could face a similar mishap at Augusta National, where the US Masters - the year's first men's Major - tees off on Friday morning.

"There's no other sport where anybody could call in and say, 'Oh, that was a foul'. It just doesn't happen," 2016 US PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker said.

"I don't know why we're the exception and you get to do that.

"Nobody gets to call ins-and-outs in tennis. I think we need to change that."

Fowler said that he expects players on all Tours to insist officials ignore contacts from replay detectives.

"I'm sure there has already been some sort of push just from yesterday," he said.

"There shouldn't be any outside contact, whether it's e-mails or phone calls.

"It has been an ongoing problem. It has been talked about for years. I'm surprised it's still around or hasn't been changed."

Thomas was stunned that someone watching at home a day earlier could deny Thompson a Major victory for a ball-marking error on a putt of mere inches and said any notion she cheated was "ridiculous".

"It's just so crazy to me that it could happen after the round is concluded," Thomas said.

"The fact somebody who has no relevance to the tournament can have an impact a day later - it's bizarre to me someone can do that and it cost her a Major championship.

"It's frustrating and it needs to go away. It needs to change... I don't know how the communication is shut off. It just needs to happen."

Fowler said he would have no problem if there was a video review official to study replays like in North American sports leagues such as the NBA and NFL.

"If there's an official always monitoring any video or anyone on camera, that's fine and I have no problem with that, if that's an official," he said. "Look at other sports. They go to someone in the video booth."

But Walker noted that not every player has equal scrutiny under the camera's glare.

"I don't think people should be able to call in like that, especially with as many cameras that are on," he said.

"Some players have so many more cameras on them.

"It's just, I think, unfair. Sounded like it was a really, really bad raw deal."

Fowler wondered where the video reviews would end. Could they uncover errors and cost players Major wins after the fact or even years later?

"If something should come up on Monday after the tournament is done - so where do we close things off? If something happened on Thursday and something were to come up on Sunday, you go back and enforce a penalty there?

"If we go back and look at videos of all kinds of players or things through the years, you probably can find rules infractions. Were these people trying to do that? I would be willing to bet 'no'."

Thomas said such calls are unfair because not everyone is equally observed by cameras.

"If you're not a premier player, you're not on TV," he said. 
- AFP

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