Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pga to Consider Influence of Viewers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pga to Consider Influence of Viewers

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- A clamorous football crowd can induce visiting squads into committing penalties by drowning out the signal calls.

Full-throated basketball fans can nudge officiating in favor of the home team.

But in no sport can devotees more directly influence the outcome than at a PGA Tour event. Such power can be exerted even if they are not present. All it takes is a television remote control with rewind capabilities, a cursory knowledge of the rules and the phone number to a given tournament's host course.

The tour permits anyone, even TV viewers, to submit evidence that a player might be guilty of an infraction -- often with improperly improving the ball's lie -- that was not detected or reported by the player or others on the spot.

One of the most prominent instances involved Tiger Woods, whose illegal drop at the Masters was spotted by a former rules official watching the tournament on television. Woods received a two-stroke penalty the next day.

At the BMW Championship last weekend, Woods was assessed a two- shot penalty after the second round when his ball moved slightly as he removed debris behind the first green.

This time, the informant was on the crew of PGA Tour Entertainment, the circuit's video production wing.

The tour's commissioner, Tim Finchem, expressed concern Tuesday about the format's fairness, in part because some players, like Woods, tend to be on TV more.

Speaking at East Lake Golf Club, the site of this week's Tour Championship finale, Finchem indicated that the tour's policy board would discuss amending the procedure by possibly limiting the scope of information considered before declaring a result official.

"All the other sports close their books quicker than we do, so to speak," said Finchem, noting that he personally had no position on the matter.

"I don't like it sometimes," he added. …

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