Masters stars demand end to TV review penalties

Jim SLATER
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ANA Inspiration - Final Round

Lexi Thompson cries in a towel as she walks to the 18th green after her second shot during the final round of the ANA Inspiration on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course on April 2, 2017 in California

Masters stars pushed Monday for banning television review penalties like the one that cost Lexi Thompson the first women's major title of the year.

"There's no question it should be ended," eighth-ranked American Rickie Fowler said. "I don't think you could find one player who would say otherwise."

Thompson was hit with a four-stroke penalty with six holes remaining in Sunday's final round of the LPGA's ANA Inspiration for an infraction in Saturday's third round spotted by a television viewer.

Despite being distraught at seeing her three-stroke lead erased, Thompson fought back to force a playoff before falling to South Korea's Ryu So-Yeon.

"I know she was really upset and really heartbroken. I don't know how she kept going," seventh-ranked American Justin Thomas said. "It's a bummer."

Sympathy and outrage followed from top men's players who could face a similar mishap at Augusta National, where the year's first men's major tees off Thursday.

"There's no other sport where anybody could call in and say, 'Oh, that was a foul.' It just doesn't happen," 2016 PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker said. "I don't know why we're the exception and you get to do that. Nobody gets to call ins-and-outs in tennis. I think we need to change that."

Fowler said he expects players on all tours to insist officials ignore contacts from replay detectives.

"I'm sure there has already been some sort of push just from yesterday," Fowler said. "There shouldn't be any outside contact, whether it's e-mails or phone calls.

"It has been an ongoing problem. It has been talked about for years. I'm surprised it's still around or hasn't been changed."

- 'Crazy' and 'bizarre' -

Thomas was stunned that someone watching at home a day earlier could deny Thompson a major victory for a ball marking error on a putt of mere inches and said any notion she cheated was "ridiculous."

"It's just so crazy to me that it could happen after the round is concluded," Thomas said.

"The fact somebody who has no relevance to the tournament can have an impact a day later -- it's bizarre to me someone can do that and it cost her a major championship.

"It's frustrating and it needs to go away. It needs to change... I don't know how the communication is shut off. It just needs to happen."

Fowler said he would have no problem if there was a video review official to study replays such as North American sports leagues like the NBA andf NFL utilize.

"If there's an official always monitoring any video or anyone on camera, that's fine and I have no problem with that, if that's an official," he said. "Look at other sports. They go to someone in the video booth."

But Walker notes that not every player has equal scrutiny under the camera's glare.

"I don't think people should be able to call in like that, especially with as many cameras that are on," Walker said. "Some players have so many more cameras on them. It's just, I think, it's unfair. Sounded like it was a really, really bad raw deal."

- 'Where do we close things?' -

World number one Dustin Johnson was told during his final round at last year's US Open, which he won, that he likely would receive a one-shot penalty after the round for a fifth-hole violation, having been ruled to cause his ball to move even after a rules official told him to play on.

"We've seen some stuff in the past year that is not making the game look very good at all," Fowler said. "There's no other sport where people can call or e-mail in or contact officials regarding an issue.

"So it was really unfortunate to see how it was handled. In my eyes, coming 24 hours after the fact, things should be handled the day of. Once you sign your scorecard that's kind of it."

Fowler wondered where the video reviews would end. Could they uncover errors and cost players major wins after the fact or even years later?

"If something should come up Monday after the tournament is done -- so where do we close things off? If something happened Thursday and something were to come up on Sunday, you go back and enforce a penalty there?" Fowler wondered.

"If we go back and look at video of all kinds of players or things through the years you probably can find rules infractions. Were these people trying to do that. I would be willing to bet no."

Thomas said such calls are unfair because not everyone is equally observed by cameras.

"If you're not a premier player, you're not on TV," he said. "It could happen to someone who doesn't have video evidence to prove it."\