Monday, April 3, 2017

Travesty in LPGA

I'm asked on an odd occasion just why I watch golf.
Usually that's followed by a statement about how slow and boring that golf on television can be.

I usually respond with one of the most dramatic scenes in sports is a final round back nine in a men's major (especially the Masters and U.S.Open) or the fun of watching the LPGA as a tour that is extremely fan friendly,but my third answer is often one that surprises the questioner-the game is more often than not,the most honorably played by the participants.
Sadly,the stern and often archaic rules of golf and its various tours leave little room for nuance and often the past rules smash head on into modern technology with the results being often mind numbing.

In this weekend's first LPGA major,the ANA Inspiration,Lexi Thompson was the dominant player and after 12 holes of the final round,Thompson looked to be cruising her way to a victory.
That was until a fan watching the tournament on television sent the tour an email after looking at a replay from SATURDAY that showed Thompson marked her ball on the 17th green (a 1 foot putt,which almost any of us would have drilled),but placed the ball roughly an inch out of position.
It was a violation that common sense would say was harmless considering the length of the putt and that likely the hairline spot might happen several times during a tournament.
The tour looked at the replay and penalized a stunned Thompson four strokes and only an incredible show of composure by Thompson saw her finish with three birdies to force a playoff,where she lost to So Yeon Ru.

Was the rule broken? Yes,as Missy Jones explains far better than I here,but this is the type of thing that makes golf look like this stodgy unyielding game that fails to use good sense to use the rulebook as a guideline rather than this written in stone binder.
I think the listening to someone at home is dicey at best anyway since the broadcast is focusing on the leaders and not all of the players,so the opportunity to find an error is top loaded towards the front of the field.
That would be similar to me seeing a receiver's foot land out of bounds in the second quarter of an NFL game,sending them an email and the league looking to see if I was right and then taking points off the board in the fourth quarter!
Not to mention that this mistake was caught the next day!
That's unreal in its stupidity.

A common sense fix would say-no penalty if a competitive advantage was not gained,no call-ins from anyone allowed (although a NFL style video room makes sense to catch large mistakes) and once the tournament is closed for the day (say an hour after the final group finishes),the statute of limitations kicks in and no further penalties can be served.

I thought the players gained a lot on Sunday as Lexi Thompson likely gained a lot of fans with her late charge and classy handling of the situation,while I thought So Yeon Ru was understated in her celebration and came out well too.
The LPGA followed its rules,but needs to make a fast decision as rules changes are being mulled for 2019.
There doesn't need to be that large of a time frame to make these types of corrections.
The time is right-let's do the right thing and fix this before it happens again...

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