Finchem asks USGA to review rule that DQ'd Villegas and Harrington

camilo villegas
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A TV viewer identified a violation by Camilo Villegas, but his complaint didn't reach PGA Tour officials until after Villegas had signed his scorecard.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press


Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | 9:31 p.m.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is asking the USGA to review the Rules of Golf after two prominent players were disqualified for rules violations that were reported after they signed their scorecards.

Television viewers called in violations by Camilo Villegas in Hawaii and Padraig Harrington in Abu Dhabi. They were assessed two-shot penalties, but because officials were notified after the round, the players were disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.

“I just think that there’s a lot of discomfort with this whole situation and questions raised,” Finchem said Tuesday.

 He said he is to meet with the USGA Executive Committee next week at its annual meeting, and he has spoken with the European Tour, which he said has joined him in questioning the rule.

Finchem made it clear he is not asking that the penalty related to signing an incorrect card be changed.

He said he wants a “full and thorough review” of the rule, so golf officials can ask if there is a better way to penalize players. One suggestion is to assess the two-stroke penalty even after the card has been signed, provided the player was not aware he had broken a rule.

Regardless of the outcome, tours have a right to set their own rules for a tournament. Finchem, however, has not been in favor of the PGA Tour getting into the business of making rules. He prefers the USGA to handle that.

“I don’t want to assume what our position would be on any piece of it,” he said. “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.”

One suggestion is to simply add the penalty to a player’s score when a violation is discovered and let him keep playing. That could lead to other problems, however. If a two-shot penalty on Friday is not discovered until Saturday, it’s possible the adjusted score could affect which players make the cut.

Villegas reached over to tap down a divot as his ball was rolling back down a slope to that very spot. A TV viewer tried to reach tournament officials, but his e-mail didn’t make its way to Kapalua until after Villegas had signed for a 72.

Harrington opened with a 65 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, one shot out of the lead. A TV viewer noticed that when replacing his ball on the green, the ball moved forward ever so slightly. Harrington later said he knew the ball nudged forward, but he felt it had rolled back to its original spot. He was disqualified the next day.

Finchem said he had been told that without HDTV, it could not be determined that Harrington’s ball had moved.

“Now if you can’t see the ball move in that kind of setting, are you really going to let that go to disqualification? I mean, there needs to be some common sense here maybe in terms of the way these things are,” Finchem said. “So I don’t know whether the rule will be changed. I don’t know what timeframe the final decision will be made by the USGA.

“I feel comfortable given the quality of the people at the USGA today that if we can just get into a room and talk seriously about the options, we ought to be able to give this a very careful review.”


{If the USGA is going to rule so harshly on these types of phoned-in penalties, it shoul think about having 1 rules official per pairing/group. That way every move and every shot is being watched, as if under a microscope.} If the player, himself, or any player in the same group does not realize an infraction has been made, and there is not an official that notices, let integrity be in the foreground. "Play on".


Let me first say that i am all for the honesty and intergrity which is golf and which sets it apart from all other sports..But is it absolutely obsurd that someone sitting hundreds or thousands of miles away in front of their tv set can have an affect on the outcome.They are exactly that,just a spectator.the pga has its own set of rules officials that are paid to govern and oversee the game each and every week,if they do not catch or the player does not step up to an infraction then that is how it plays where in any other sport can a tv viewer call in and affect the event.can you imagine if every armchair quarterback sat in front of his set with a number that accessed the nfl commisioners office calling in to report a holding or offsides or some other illegal play that was missed by the onfield referee' would be total mayhem.the rules dont need to be changed we just need to let those incharge of inforcing them do their jobs


I saw the video more than once, and I feel that no golf player would ever have considered that ball to have moved. Therefore, I cannot understand how the Rules Officials could have given credit to the TV viewer. By both equity and fairplay standards I strongly believe that they have gone beyond the limits of what the Rules of the game expects from them.


I don't believe the reports of tv viewers of anything that is not an immediate safety issue should ever be considered. I believe Greg Savoy has put the whole matter very simply and correctly. Great observation Greg.


Simple any viewer who calls in to report a violation or possible violation will be charged the entry fee to that tournament. If you not a participant you are not a participant simple as that.