PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The topic of whether television viewers should be allowed to call in rules violations reared its head again Tuesday when Brandt Snedeker emphatically expressed his opposition.
Snedeker, No. 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking and the highest-ranked American after Tiger Woods, strongly said TV fans should not be permitted to impact tournaments. And he said he’s hardly alone, estimating that a large percentage of PGA Tour professionals agree with him, given frequent discussion in player meetings.
“We’re the only sport that lets viewers affect the outcome,” Snedeker said in his pre-Players news conference at TPC Sawgrass. “I don’t know how far down the road we want that to go.”
He said players dislike the longstanding allowance for two primary reasons: Because they feel their integrity is being called into question, and because they can get disqualified because of a rule they didn’t know existed.
“Any time a rules official calls you in and says they need to take a look, you’re not in a good mood,” Snedeker said. “We feel like it’s being called into the principal’s office.”
Passionate about the subject, he wondered why viewers would call in, why they don’t have “something better going on” and how they got the telephone number and got through in the first place.
“I call the Tour all the time and they never answer my call,” he cracked.
The matter was broached, of course, because of the Tiger Woods controversy at the Masters last month. After Woods hit from the wrong spot on the 15th hole in the second round, at least one viewer called in.
The Masters committee reviewed and cleared Woods without telling him before he signed his card. After Woods revealed in a post-round interview that he dropped a couple of yards behind the original spot instead of as close as possible, the committee reopened the case and gave him a two-stroke penalty.
Woods actually was helped by the call-in. Had the violation been reported and acknowledged after he signed his scorecard, he would have been disqualified. The timing was crucial.
On Tuesday, Woods said he was surprised that many people didn’t accept the Masters ruling, given that tournament competition chairman Fred Ridley “explained it well.”
Overall, Woods said he accepts the call-in policy as a traditional part of the game but said he wouldn’t phone in a suspected violation if he were watching golf or another sport in his living room.
“I don’t ever see myself calling in to say Kobe (Bryant) traveled or an offensive lineman held,” Woods said.
The viewpoint here is that truth should reign, regardless of where it comes from. Davis Love III, a player-director on the Tour policy board for multiple terms, said as much Tuesday.
“If a rule is broken, no matter how you find out about it, it’s good for the game,” Love said. “It’s protecting the field.”
Truth also should override clerical errors. Too often players have received the harsh penalty of disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard. To hear Love, that could change.
“There is talk of (the USGA) either changing the way we do our scorecards and then having it not be our responsibility or not be a disqualification,” Love said. “Taking disqualification out and making it a two-shot penalty no matter what. They’re looking in the right direction because the world has changed.”