In the first place, the argument is all
wrong. It’s not whether television view-
ers should be allowed to point out rules
infractions. The horse is miles out of the
barn on that one. The issue is whether
players are punished too severely be-
cause those who run afoul of the rules are
discovered, after their rounds are over, by
means of television technology.
The latest victim is Padraig Harrington,
who found himself on the bad side of a
television camera on Thursday morning
and the wrong end of a ruling on Friday
morning in the desert at the Abu Dhabi
Harrington had marked his ball on a
putting green, and when he replaced it, his
finger brushed the back of the ball, caus-
ing it to move. That wouldn’t be a pen-
alty if Harrington had replaced the ball.
However, he thought the ball oscillated
and returned to its original position, so he
believed he didn’t need to do anything.
After the Thursday round, a televi-
sion viewer sent in an e-mail to snitch
that the ball did, indeed, leave its original
position. Harrington had already signed
his card, believing he did nothing wrong.
He was shown the videotape before the
start of the second round, agreed it was a
two-shot penalty and was disqualified for
signing an incorrect scorecard.
Almost the same thing happened at the
Hyundai Tournament of Champions when
Camilo Villegas was penalized after the
fact for removing loose impediments while
his ball was rolling down a hill. He was
caught by a tweet from a viewer.
ing the replay, “the ball rolled forward
about three dimples and rolled back about
a dimple-and-a-half,” Harrington said
Last May, in Spain, Peter Hanson on
the European Tour incurred a penalty
that he couldn’t see. In the final round, he
double hit a chip shot and this time it was
television commentators who discovered
the violation with super slo-mo. European
Tour officials reviewed the situation and
told Hanson about the penalty during the
round, which put him two shots down
with four holes to play. Hanson birdied
two holes coming in and eventually won a
playoff and the title.
And here is where the problem lies.
Harrington and Villegas were disqualified
because their transgressions were found
they signed their scorecards. While
the penalty was severe for Hanson, he had
an opportunity to recover from his error.
Rule 34-1 allows that players must
not be disqualified after the competi-
tion is closed if they turn in a scorecard
without assessing themselves a penalty
for a breach of a rule they were unaware
they committed. The close of competition
means when the last scorecard is re-
turned in the final round.
Such a violation of the rules carries no
penalty on Monday morning but disquali-
fication on the previous Friday morning.
That doesn’t seem to engender equity,
which is one of the hallmarks of the Rules
Two things need to happen to solve this
problem. One, every major Tour should
have a rules official sit in the television
truck during each day’s broadcast. If rules
violations are found before the end of the
round, players can be penalized without
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