Masters stars urge end to viewer-generated penalties

AUGUSTA • Masters players pushed on Monday for banning television review penalties like the one that cost Lexi Thompson the first women's Major title of the year.

"There's no question it should be ended," eighth-ranked American 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 in Saturday's third round spotted by a television viewer. Despite being distraught at seeing her three-stroke lead erased, she forced a play-off before falling to South Korea's Ryu So Yeon.

Sympathy and outrage followed from top men's players who could potentially face a similar mishap at Augusta National.


If you're not a premier player, you're not on TV. It could happen to someone who doesn't have video evidence to prove it.

JUSTIN THOMAS, on why being penalised by TV replays must not continue.

"There's no other sport where anybody could call in and say, 'Oh, that was a foul.' It just doesn't happen," 2016 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 he expects players on all Tours to insist officials ignore contact 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."

Seventh-ranked American Justin 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. "It's frustrating and it needs to go away."

Fowler said he would have no problem if there was a video review official to study replays as in other North American sports leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL).

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

"Some players have so many more cameras on them," he said. "It's just, I think, it's unfair."

Thomas added: "If you're not a premier player, you're not on TV.

"It could happen to someone who doesn't have video evidence to prove it."

Fowler did wonder where the video reviews would end.

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

"If we go back and look at video 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."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Masters stars urge end to viewer-generated penalties'. Print Edition | Subscribe