Fowler weighs in on Thompson controversy

Rickie Fowler has said that allowing TV viewers to affect the outcome of golf tournaments “is not making the game look very good at all”.

The former world number one made the comments following Sunday’s controversial decision to penalise Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration, and said outside contact with officials should end.

American Thompson, 22, was ahead in the final round of the first women’s major of the season when she was handed a four-shot penalty after a TV viewer spotted an infringement from a day earlier and notified officials.

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

“Once you sign your scorecard,” he added, “that (should be) it.”

Fowler, speaking ahead of the Masters, said: “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.”

Meanwhile, Thompson issued a new statement Monday saying professionals should accept official decisions “no matter how painful it is”.

She was leading by two shots in Sunday’s final round when she was penalised for incorrectly replacing a marked ball in Saturday’s third round after a TV viewer emailed tournament officials.

Her five-under-par Saturday round of 67 was then changed to a 71 which eventually led to a play-off between Thompson and eventual winner So Yeon Ryu.

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

“The LPGA rules officials made a judgment call at the moment, and we as professional golfers must accept it, no matter how painful it is,” she added.