Monday 23 October 2017

Golf authorities review the use of video technology following Lexi Thompson incident

Andy Hampson

Golf's rule-makers have issued new directives to lessen the impact of video technology in the game.

There was controversy earlier this month when Lexi Thompson was hit with a four-stroke penalty while leading the ANA Inspiration, the first women's major of the year, after a TV viewer spotted an infringement.

The R&A and USGA have since met to discuss the matter and a new two-part rules decision has been issued, effective immediately, allowing tournament officials more flexibility to apply common sense in certain situations.

Thompson was told during her final round at Misson Hills, California, that footage of the previous day's play showed she had incorrectly replaced a marked ball. The American was penalised two shots for the offence and a further two for signing an incorrect scorecard. She went on to lose in a play-off.

Another incident occurred in last year's US Women's Open when Anna Nordqvist unknowingly moved a few grains of sand during her backswing. This infraction was only noticed on a zoomed-in replay but she was still hit with a two-shot penalty and lost in a play-off.

The fall-out from both controversies has been considerable and, while not changing any rules, the R&A and USGA, who between them govern the game worldwide, have loosened expectations regarding their enforcement.

A joint statement by the organisations recognises "the use of video technology can make it possible to identify things that could not be seen with the naked eye".

It adds: "If the (rules) committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of the potential breach, the player will be deemed not to have breached the rules, even when video technology shows otherwise."

The statement also says players "should not be held to the degree of precision that can sometimes be provided by video technology" on matters of location such as "determining the nearest point of relief or replacing a lifted ball".

It adds: "So long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player's reasonable judgment will be accepted, even if later shown to be wrong by the use of video evidence."

In addition to this, the whole issue of viewer input will be reviewed.

"The two organisations have also established a working group of LPGA, PGA Tour, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America representatives to immediately begin a comprehensive review of broader video issues that arise in televised competitions, including viewer call-ins," the statement read.

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