R&A, USGA react quickly to Thompson scandal

It’s way too late to add to Lexi Thompson’s resume, but sanity has prevailed with a rule change so the ‘dobbers’ can keep their thoughts to themselves.

The four-stroke penalty slapped on Thompson for allegedly moving her ball when remarking it on the green cost the popular American a major championship.

Lexi Thompson Lexi Thompson (Credit: www.golffile.ie)

But the howls of protest that echoed around the world afterwards have forced the R&A and the USGA to hastily introduce a change in the rules to prevent a similar debacle recurring.

The two ruling bodies of professional golf have introduced a new decision to the rules of golf which will reduce the use of video evidence while enforcing the rules of golf and placing the emphasis back on player integrity.

Effective immediately, Decision 34-3/10 introduced two new standards which will allow rules officials to moderate the use of video review.

What that means is that if video shows a player breaking the rules but in a way that could not have been seen with the “naked eye”, then there will be no penalty.

The same goes for a situation where players were just using their “reasonable judgement” at the time to apply the rules, there will also be no penalty.

According to the USGA, if the committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of the potential breach, the player will be deemed not to have breached the Rules, even when video technology shows otherwise.

This is an extension of the provision on ball-at-rest-moved cases, which was introduced in 2014.

The rules adjustment has, not surprisingly, been welcomed by golf professionals around the world.

Certainly there have been several instances over the years where results may have been different if not for a few well-chosen words from keen observers around the world who felt it was their ‘duty’ to see that justice was done.

Otherwise Lexi Thompson might still be celebrating her second major championship win.