Monday, January 10, 2011

Byrd Flies High; Time To Fix The TV/Rules Mess

   A few thoughts on a snowy morning about what happened last week in Kapalua:

  -- Jonathan Byrd  has gone back to back, winning his last two starts including his walk-off ace victory in the playoff at Justin Timberlake's Las Vegas event late last year. He now has five PGA Tour victories and if you want start counting, that puts Byrd ahead of many of his more famous colleagues. Camilo Villegas, for example, has three tour wins.

   Byrd doesn't draw attention to himself but his collection of trophies is beginning to do that for him. Until Kapalua, Byrd's wins hadn't come in high-profile events but this win was different, even if it came against a small field. This may be the year when Byrd puts himself in a new class on tour.

  -- Obviously Villegas made a bone-headed mistake when he flipped a divot out of the path of his golf ball last week, earning himself a disqualification at Kapalua. But having a rules breach called in by a television viewer -- it's hardly the first time -- and leading to a DQ is unfair.

    It's unfair because not every player in the field has television cameras focused on his every shot. Most players spend the tournament off camera where any potential rules violations wouldn't be telecast to a television audience. It's an uneven playing field in that regard.

   Tour officials didn't notice the violation and accepted his scorecard. Had they noticed the violation, they could have tacked on two shots before Villegas signed his card and been done with it. Instead, he gets DQ'd because the penalty wasn't assessed until the next day when it was discovered.

   It's not unlike trying to undo what happened in a football game because of a missed call.

   I like the idea that's been tossed out of having a tour official monitor the telecast, almost like a replay official in football. If there are any potential rules questions during the telecast, they can be dealt with immediately. We've all heard the expression 'protect the field.' They should protect the players, too.

  -- Charlotte residents Brendon de Jonge, Webb Simpson and Johnson Wagner get their 2011 seasons started this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Anonymous said...

Players who don't know the rules deserve every penalty they get. If it takes TV coverage to enforce or catch infractions, that's fine with me.

I believe he knew he was moving the impediment out of the way but probably did not know it was against the rules.A DQ is harsh but I bet he will read the rule book soon.

Anonymous said...

Rules are rules. Regardless of who calls it. He should have known better. Perhaps the "higher profile" players should brush up on the rules. Surely you agree that it was a rules violation and he should have know better. He's high profile for goodness sakes. Glad he got popped.

Anonymous said...

Ron Green, you are absolutely right. Once the round is completed, that should be the end of it. How far can they go back and review play? There should be a statute of limitations applied here. How about if I go back and look at film of a tournament played recently and find a rules violation committed by a player who won? What then? There should be a determination made by the rules committee concerning this subject.

Anonymous said...

Great post and I agree whole heartedly with you that the Tour needs to do anyway with "called" in penalties. I have always felt uncomfortable about this subject and it does create an unfair playing field.


BCMaffitt said...

I agree that having a TV viewer create a ruling/DQ is unfair. The dilemma is that the only way to totally level the playing field is to have a rules official follow every group on every hole.
Golf have always prided itself on being a self policing sport, but I'm continually amazed that so many PGA pros don't know the rules (e.g. Dustin Johnson).