Golf-USGA asked by PGA Tour to review rulebook


Wed, 26 Jan 00:57:00 2011

The PGA Tour has asked the United States Golf Association (USGA) to review the rulebook following high-profile incidents involving Padraig Harrington and Camilo Villegas, commissioner Tim Finchem said on Tuesday.

Irishman Harrington and Colombian Villegas were each disqualified this month from tournaments for rules violations spotted by television viewers.

In both cases the disqualifications occurred the following day, well after the players' respective rounds, once officials had been able to review the footage.

"Based on the two situations in recent weeks, we are re-articulating our concern to the USGA," Finchem told reporters at Torrey Pines ahead of this week's Farmers Insurance Open.

"And I've spoken at length to the European Tour a couple of times in the last 10 days, and they also are joining with us in questioning this rule. When I say question it we are asking for a full and thorough review of the rule..."

Finchem said simply penalising a player two shots retroactively would perhaps be adequate in cases where a player had no knowledge he had violated a rule and that violation came to light only after the round.

"I just think that there's a lot of discomfort with this whole situation and questions raised," Finchem added. "I don't want to assume what our position would be on any piece of it.

"All I'm saying at this point is we ought to have an intelligent, thorough discussion of what we have today and what options might be available to us."


Harrington was disqualified from last week's Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour when he signed for an incorrect score after a television viewer noticed the triple major winner had accidentally moved his ball on the green.

Villegas was disqualified from this month's Tournament of Champions in Hawaii after a TV viewer had spotted him illegally flicking away a loose divot of grass while his ball was trickling back toward him down a slope after a chip shot.

In both incidents, the players were disqualified because their rules violations were reported after they had signed their cards. Had the violation been addressed during the round, a two-shot penalty would have resulted.

Earlier this week, the Royal & Ancient (R&A), the governing body for the world, except for the United States and Mexico, said it was taking a fresh look at its golfing rulebook following the disqualifications of Harrington and Villegas.

"We need to assess whether, at times, these penalties are still appropriate," the R&A's rules of golf director Grant Moir told Reuters.

"It isn't always necessary for a change in policy that the rulebook itself has to be changed," he explained.

"There is a decisions book which provides an interpretation of the rules and that is also a means of altering policy."


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