4 Apr 2017

Fowler says armchair rules experts have to go

9:55 am on 4 April 2017

The world golf number eight Rickie Fowler has joined Tiger Woods and Lydia Ko in calling for an end to armchair rules experts being able to influence tournament decisions through television viewer tip-offs.

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler Photo: Photosport

Fowler's comments come 24 hours after a controversial rules decision cost LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson a shot at winning the first women's major championship of 2017.

During the final round of the ANA Inspiration yesterday, a television viewer's email alerted officials to a day-old rules violation by Thompson for a one-inch ball placement error in the third round.

In the final round, her three-shot lead was wiped out by a four-shot penalty, before Thompson lost in a playoff to South Korea's So Yeon Ryu.

Speaking at the Masters at Augusta National, Fowler referenced the backlash to world No.1 Dustin Johnson's one-shot penalty for moving his ball at address on the putting green during the final round of the 2016 US Open.

Although Johnson won by three shots, the US Golf Association decision came under fire for informing Johnson of the discretion mid-round without deciding on the penalty.

"I think we've seen some (dramas) in the past year that is not making the game look very good at all. Having a lot of effect on the outcome of a major is unfortunate and I feel bad for Lexi. said Fowler.

"There's no other sport where people can call or e-mail in or contact officials regarding an issue ... these decisions are left up to officials, in other sports."

Fowler believes penalising Thompson retrospectively was also unfair.

"Coming 24 hours after the fact, to me, you know, things should be handled the day of," said Fowler.

During the ANA Inspiration final round, 14-time major winner Tiger Woods took to social media to express outrage at the Thompson decision.

"Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes," Woods posted on Twitter.

Woods had his own experience at rules tip-offs during major championships, notably in 2013 when a television viewer called in to reveal Woods' errant drop on the 15th hole during the second round, for which he was given a two-stroke penalty the following day.

Ko tweeted, Unbelievable... really need to CHANGE and do something about people being able to call in!