The message to TV viewers is loud and clear: Stop calling. Stop e-mailing. Stop texting. Call-ins will no longer be accepted.
This comes as welcome news to golf fans who have grown weary of tournament outcomes being decided away from the course. It is an appropriate time to reflect on history’s most notorious TV viewer call-ins:
1980 MONY Tournament of Champions – A TV microphone picks up Lee Trevino talking about Tom Watson suggesting Trevino change his stance during the final round. After a viewer reports it, officials penalize Watson two strokes. Watson, who was leading the tournament, went on to win anyway.
1987 Shearson Lehman Brothers Andy Williams Open – Craig Stadler plays a shot while kneeling on a towel to avoid wet ground during the third round at Torrey Pines. After NBC showed replays of the shot during its final-round telecast the next day, several viewers called in. Officials determined that Stadler violated a rule by building a stance, and he was disqualified after finishing the final round for signing an incorrect third-round scorecard, costing him what would have been a T2 finish.
1991 Doral-Ryder Open – Paul Azinger moves a small rock with his foot while playing a shot from a water hazard during his first-round 65. A viewer reports that Azinger violated a rule that prohibits moving loose impediments in a hazard, and officials disqualify him for signing an incorrect first-round scorecard after his second round the next day.
1998 NEC World Series of Golf – Reigning U.S. Open Lee Janzen misses a birdie putt and waits while the ball hangs on the lip before dropping into the cup more than 20 seconds later. He marks a birdie on his scorecard and later signs it, but because a viewer reported Janzen’s violation of a rule stipulating that a player can wait only a reasonable amount of time to hit his next putt – 10 seconds after walking to the hole – officials disqualify him for signing an incorrect scorecard.
2010 Safeway Classic – Juli Inkster takes practice swings with a weighted “donut” training aid on her club during her second round. Officials disqualify her after a viewer informed them Inkster had violated a rule prohibiting the use of practice devices during a round. Inkster had been tied for second before being disqualified.
2013 Masters – Tiger Woods takes an improper drop after his third shot to the par-5 15th hole at Augusta National during the second round hits the flagstick and ricochets into the water. A television viewer – later revealed to be Champions Tour player David Eger, a former USGA and PGA Tour rules official – informed tournament officials, who penalized Woods two strokes the next day but did not disqualify him under a provision of the rules introduced two years earlier that allowed a player to stay in the tournament if a rules dispute arose from television evidence.
2017 ANA Inspiration – Officials penalize Lexi Thompson four strokes during the final round after a viewer informed the LPGA Thompson had improperly replaced a marked ball on the green during the third round a day earlier. Thompson, who had been leading the tournament, eventually lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.