Attention all you sports fans out there, wouldn’t it be nice if we had the power to change an outcome of an event or game from the comforts of our own home? Suppose we were watching a baseball game and noticed the hitter did not touch all of the bases after hitting a home run. We could call or email the league office and get the ruling overturned. Perhaps there was an obvious pass interference call during a football game that the referees missed. Once again, maybe us fans should take matters into our own hands and be the final judges. Oh never mind the officials at the game, we are the ultimate referees. Sounds rather silly doesn’t it? What sport would actually give someone sitting at home that kind of power? Well as it turns out, professional golf does.
The whole episode last week with professional women’s golfer Lexi Thompson is one of the strangest and most ridiculous rulings that I have ever seen in all my years of watching sports. To recap, Thompson made the terrible sin of not placing her ball directly behind the coin that was placed in front of her ball on the putting green before she picked up the ball. Instead, Thompson placed her ball on the side of the coin, roughly about an inch away from her original position. The new location was not closer to the cup and no official noticed her placing the ball in the incorrect location. As it turns out, an anonymous fan at home noticed and sent an email to LGA headquarters. Yes, a serious rule violation took place and Thompson must pay! To make matters even worse, the viewer waited until the next day (final day of the tournament) to contact the league office. After reviewing the complaint the following, the official slapped Thompson with not only a 2 stroke penalty, but another 2 stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. It was not until the 12th whole on the final day of the tournament that Thompson was notified of this violation.
I find several things extremely wrong with this whole story, but I will focus on just a few. First of all, why did the rules official miss that so-called infraction? Was the official assigned to that group taking a late afternoon snooze? With all the advanced technology that we currently have, there is absolutely no reason at all for missing something like that. The rules officials should have been on top of it immediately.
Second of all, this was an honest mistake by the player and the ball was not placed any closer to the hole. The only way I can see Thompson gaining an advantage is if there were a spike mark on the path to the hole. But let’s be real, I highly doubt moving the ball that little distance really affected the putt’s path at all. A silly rule if you ask me!
3rd and last of all, why is some viewer so obsessed that he or she would be willing to take time and write to the league headquarters to complain about such a minor infraction? And not to do it promptly? What do they feel they are gaining by doing this? I highly doubt this individual will have to guts to come out and become known.
I just feel that in any sporting event, it is the job of the officials to make calls and not the viewers at home. They get paid to do so, not us viewers at home. The officials of the LPGA should view ashamed of this happening. It is a huge black eye on the sport of golf. When a television viewer suddenly affects the outcome of a tournament, things are not right. We are going down a slippery slope if this it not changed. I just hope the officials learn from this and make changes to ensure this embarrassment does not happen again. Lexi Thompson deserved to be treated better than that. She probably lost a major championship and thousands of dollars due to incompetence by tournament officials and some anonymous fan. That is just not right!
One the biggest story lines coming out this weekend’s PGA tournament in Whistling Straits is yet another missed cut for Tiger Woods. If you’re keeping score at home, that is now 3 straight missed cuts in majors for Woods who is now ranked 278th in the official world rankings after being the top golfer in the world for so many years. His downfall has been absolutely shocking. If someone would have told me about 7 years ago that Woods would be the 278th ranked golfer in the world on August 16th 2015, I would have asked what drugs he or she is on. Back then, Tiger could probably play left-handed and still be in the top 100. It was not a question on whether Woods could break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major champion wins, but rather when. He dominated the sport in a 10 year stretch that few golfers ever have. I have never seen in all my years of watching sports such a high-profile athlete fall like Woods has.
So what is the problem with Woods? Why has he fallen so dramatically? These questions get constantly asked by the golf pundits. The Golf Channel’s crew at the PGA spent a considerable amount of time talking about Tiger’s game and whether he will ever win another major. The consenus of many in the gold world is that Woods is finished as being a top flight golfer and will be just another regular average golfer from now on. As a fan of the sport and player, I am definitely in the minority in saying that Woods still has some bullets left in his gun; he is not finished by any means. It would not shock me in the least to see him rise back again to a high level and possible win a few more majors.
There has been a lot of talk about Woods having multiple swing coaches during his career and whether that is really a good thing for him or any golfer. My question is why change a good thing? Even when Woods was dominating and hitting the ball well, he was constantly changing his coaches. He had some of the best coaches in the game. Apparently, Woods is one of these guys who can never be satisfied with his golf swing. Perhaps he was and is still too much of a perfectionist. A good golf swing should be a simple natural motion. No matter how ugly it may look, the only thing that matters is for consistent results. Woods needs to go back to Butch Harmon and get his swing straightened out.
Sure, Woods at times has had problems with his swing but in order for him to really achieve greatness again, his short game really has to come around. During his glory days, Tiger used to be money on those clutch short putts. Nowadays, he is really struggling to make anything! Forget about fixing his swing, if his putting and chipping do not improve, Woods will definitely not come back and win anything. Sometimes I feel like I am watching a 20 handicapped golfer when I see Woods trying to chip the ball or ball out of a bunker. It is even more shocking to see him struggle in that part of the game as opposed to swing.
Many people who cover golf fail to mention the effect of his injuries in recent years. A back problem is very toxic to any level golfer. Woods has battled back issues in recent years and that could be why he has suddenly dropped off. It appears that Woods is recovering nicely from those injuries and that may be key in helping him regain his winning ways. I doubt any golfer with back issues can play at a high level. The margin of error in golf these days is just too small. There are just too many good players, especially younger players. His injuries are definitely a reason that he has fallen so dramatically.
Whether you like or hate Woods, you have to admit that his return to greatness would be huge for the world of golf. Imagine a major with him, Jordan Speith and Rory McIlroy competing for the title? It would create interest that golf has never seen. I still believe it will happen eventually. Sure Woods will be turning 40 this year, but let’s not write his obituary just yet. If anyone can come back, it’s Woods. He still has a little bit of gas left in his tank to compete at a high level and beat some of the young phenoms in golf. He may not dominate golf again like he used to, but he could soon be a strong contender in many tournaments.