A fan’s tweet gives golfers headaches

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A fan’s tweet gives golfers headaches

KAPALUA, Hawaii - Camilo Villegas’ disqualification from the Tournament of Champions for a rules violation spotted by a television viewer has sparked heated debate among the players.

While no one has suggested that Villegas not be penalized for illegally removing a loose impediment during the opening round at Kapalua, many dislike the fact that a fan influenced on-course events.

“An armchair official tweeted in to get Camilo DQ’d,” Britain’s Ian Poulter said in a Twitter posting. “What is wrong with people? Have they got nothing better to do?

“Yes the rules are the rules. It was a mistake on Camilo’s behalf. He didn’t know he had done wrong, but people calling in? No one likes a snitch.”

Poulter disagreed with the notion that a player could be disqualified a day “after the fact,” Villegas only learning his fate on Friday before the start of the second round.

“Yes he should have been punished but it’s a shame it wasn’t before he signed his card,” Poulter said.

Former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger felt the calling in of violations effectively protected the golfers.

“A TV viewer calling in a DQ stinks for the player, but no player wants to get away with breaking a rule,” Azinger tweeted.

“TV protects the field. [There are] so many rules - the players don’t know them all. Players on TV are more closely scrutinized,” Azinger went on.

Villegas had carded a one-under-par 72 in the opening round, but he violated Rule 23-1 at the par-five 15th where he twice chipped up to the green only to watch as his ball rolled back to him.

On the second occasion, he illegally flicked away a loose divot of grass as the ball was trickling back down the slope. His infraction was spotted by Dave Andrews, who was watching the action on television with friends in Daytona Beach, Florida. After checking the rules on the United States Golf Association’s Web site, Andrews alerted the PGA Tour and the Golf Channel through Twitter.

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