If you watched any of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions last week, you probably heard that Camilo Villegas was disqualified after the first round for signing an incorrect score card. Villegas was chipping up the slope to the 15th green when the ball twice rolled back toward him. The second time, Villegas walked over and casually swatted away some loose pieces of grass in front of the divot as the ball was still moving down the slope.
That is a violation of Rule 23-1 that says, “When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed.” The penalty is two shots. Villegas opened with a 72, and he was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard when he failed to assess a 2 stroke penalty on himself for the violation.
The interesting twist on this violation was that it was noticed by a television viewer, who phoned the PGA Tour and alerted them about the infraction, which was investigated, resulting in the disqualification of Villegas. The violation was obvious, but should viewers at home be allowed to call in and report on situations such as this? Golf is unique in this way, as you wouldn’t expect a spectator watching an NBA game to call in and report a foul that the referee’s missed. Nor would you have a T.V. viewer call in to report a holding call in the NFL. So why does the PGA Tour allow this? While there was not doubt that the rules breach happened, do you think that this unfairly punished Villegas, or is it ok for the PGA to allow people watching at home to report things like this? What’s your take?