The sport of golf embarrassed itself on Sunday.
The sad part was that it had nothing to do with the players on the PGA and LPGA tour. And it really had nothing to do with the officials who are running both tours, although common sense needs to factor into the equation.
In case you missed it, 22-year old Lexi Thompson DIDN’T win the ANA Inspiration, the first LPGA major of the season. Or more precisely, the victory was snatched from her because some Get a Life viewer spotted an infraction about replacing a ball on a 1 foot putt on the 17th green in SATURDAY’s round.
That viewer sent an email to LPGA officials on SUNDAY. Tapes were viewed and Thompson did appear to replace her ball an inch out of position. No one saw it on Saturday during the round and Thompson completed her round and appeared to be heading to victory on Sunday with a 3 shot lead with 6 holes remaining.
But after the email was received and the tapes reviewed, Thompson was penalized four shots–two for an incorrect ball placement and two more strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard.
I think it would be only fitting that the person that did this step forward or be made available to the media.
Thompson absorbed the news of the loss of her lead on Sunday and eventually lost the tournament in a one-hole playoff to So Yeon Ryu.
Golf has always been and should always be a game of rules, which has developed a sense of honor among the players, who often call penalties on themselves.
The new social media era in which everything is analyzed and observed in emails, or tweets is also part of the game. So be it. More scrutiny often helps, and while I am not comfortable with viewers being part of the process, I can accept the calls and emails and texts that come in while the round is STILL IN PROGRESS or while there are still officials on the course.
But there needs to be a statue of limitations on when any information is even considered. For the LPGA to make a ruling and penalize one of its golfers 24 hours after the event is a joke.
Imagine the fifth inning of Game 7 of the World Series if some viewer called major league baseball and said that they saw a television replay of the end of Game Six in which an umpire’s call on a game-deciding play in the bottom of the ninth was wrong, allowing the home team to win and advance to Game 7.
In the world of the LPGA and PGA, Game 7 would have to be halted and the World Series would be over. Ridiculous? Of course, but my point here is simple.
Enforce the rules in whatever ways you choose, using whatever information is made available for the round that is in progress.
But in the words of Yogi Berra, “it ain’t over until its over” and once business is done for the day after any round of golf, it should be OVER and no changes or penalties are possible.