Monday 20 November 2017

TV vigilantes pounce again

William S Callahan

GOLF'S TV vigilantes can cut another notch on their zapper following Scot Peter Whiteford's disqualification from the Avantha Masters.

Whiteford was informed of his disqualification as he stepped onto the fourth tee during yesterday's final round. He trailed eventual winner Jbe Kruger of South Africa by two strokes at that time following a bogey on the previous hole.

Though the rules breach occurred on the 18th fairway on Saturday, it was brought to the attention of officials by emails sent from television viewers to the European Tour website overnight.

Using super slow-mo and zoom facilities on their high-definition televisions, armchair fans determined that Whiteford's ball did indeed move after address. At that time, Whiteford (31) stepped back and asked his caddie, a playing companion and a TV cameraman if they had seen it move.

When they said they hadn't, he merely played on. Had he called for a referee at that point, the incident could have been reviewed on TV and Whiteford would have incurred a one- stroke penalty under Rule 18, which also required him to replace his ball.

For example, television evidence was used during play yesterday to determine that Marcel Siem's ball moved fractionally after address as he prepared to chip onto the 15th green.

Even had Whiteford raised the matter before leaving the recorder's hut on Saturday, he could at that point have avoided disqualification by adding a two-stroke penalty (under Rule 18) to his score at the last for not replacing his ball.

A rule introduced last year allows penalties to be added to a player's score after he has signed his card. It followed Padraig Harrington's controversial disqualification in Abu Dhabi on 'TV vigilante' evidence the morning after a first-round 65.

But for that new rule to apply, the player "reasonably" cannot have been expected to know a rules breach had occurred prior to signing his card. Once he had expressed any doubt on Saturday, Whiteford should have alerted officials.

The Tournament Committee told Whiteford prior to the start of his final round that the incident was under investigation. Their verdict was given to him by European Tour chief referee John Paramor at the fourth tee.

"I should have reviewed it," said Whiteford. "You can see it when you look at TV ... I'm not cheating obviously. It's disappointing."

Kruger (25) clinched his first European victory and South Africa's fourth in six events this year. A closing 69 left him two ahead of Spain's Jorge Campillo and Siem -- and €300,000 the richer. Paul McGinley tied 14th (worth €26,640) on eight-under after his putter went cold during yesterday's 73.

Irish Independent

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