Stop TV viewers affecting tournament outcomes – Fowler

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Rickie Fowler says television viewers affecting golf tournaments “is not making the game look very good at all”.

The former world number one wants outside contact with officials to end and believes all players agree.

American Lexi Thompson, 22, was leading the first women’s major of the season on Sunday when she received a four-shot penalty after a TV viewer spotted an infringement and contacted officials.

“There’s no question it should be ended,” Fowler said.

The American, who was speaking in the build-up to this week’s Masters in Augusta, added: “I don’t think you could find one player that would say otherwise.

“If there’s an official always monitoring any video or anyone on camera, that’s fine, and I have no problem with that. You look at other sports, they go to someone in the video booth and there’s an official in there that can look over stuff – great.

“There shouldn’t be any outside contact, whether it’s email or phone calls, whatsoever. We’ve seen some stuff in the past year which is not making the game look very good at all.

“There’s no other sport where people can call or email in or contact officials regarding an issue. These decisions are left up to officials. There are not people sitting at home dictating this, or in this case, having a large effect on the outcome of a major.

“I feel bad for Lexi. The way she handled it, the way she fought, was impressive.”

Thompson issues new statement

Thompson, meanwhile, has issued a new statement saying professional golfers should accept the decision of officials “no matter how painful it is”.

Thompson was leading the ANA Inspiration by two shots in Sunday’s final round when she was penalised for incorrectly replacing a marked ball in Saturday’s third round.

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The offence had been spotted by a viewer who emailed organisers. Thompson was penalised two strokes for putting the ball back in a different place and two for signing for an incorrect score.

Her five-under-par third-round 67 was therefore changed to a 71 which led to a play-off between Thompson and eventual winner Ryu So-yeon.

“What happened was not intentional at all – I would never do that purposely and I hope everyone knows that,” Thompson said.