2010 was a busy year for high-profile Rules quandaries on the PGA Tour. This year is already following form. The culprit: Camilo Villegas. The setting: the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui, where Villegas illegally flicked away a divot on the 15th hole. The result: disqualification. Only this episode has a new twist, and what is certainly a PGA Tour first: the violation was reported on Twitter by a fan watching from home. Roughly 18 hours ago, DaveAndrews723 (whose Twitter bio lists him as a freelance golf writer) tweeted:
"Rules violation??? Camilo Villegas on the 15th hole moved a piece of turf (loose divot) as his ball was rolling back towards him. Penalty??"
The PGA Tour picked up on Andrews' tweet and, after spending some time reviewing the violation earlier today, has DQ'ed Villegas from the tourament. According to the AP:
Villegas watched video to confirm the penalty and did not protest. Making it worse, Friday is his 29th birthday.
Here is how The Orlando Sentinel described the violation:
Playing a bump-and-run approach to the uphill 15th green at Kapalua, Villegas watched as his ball didn’t get all the way to the crest and began rolling back to him. While the ball was rolling, the former UF standout casually reached down with his club and flicked away some loose turf.
However, Rule 23-1 states that “a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed.” Penalty: Two strokes. As it turned out, the ball veered away a few feet from where the clump of turf laid. However, no one could have known that when Villegas flicked it away.
Considering that this Rules violation was first spotted on Twitter, it’s no surprise that Twitter has been filled with opinion on Villegas’ violation and whether a disqualification is fair. Here are some highlights:
Golf Blogger Geoff Shackelford:
Associated Press Golf Writer Doug Ferguson:
@dougferguson405 Oh, by the way: Happy Birthday, Camilo. He turns 29 today. Saw him at breakfast. Handling this with a little humor and a lot of class.
@dougferguson405 Worst part of this: More of the same, tired debates on TV viewers that will break no new ground. This is TV era and has been for awhile.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Alan Shipnuck:
@AlanShipnuck Hey, if he broke a rule and signed an incorrect card, he’ll get what he deserves. I think golf fans being able to report violations is cool.
@AlanShipnuck It proves how smart and engaged golf fans are and is unique to the sport.
@AlanShipnuck Is having fans report violations a perfect system? No, but it's all we got. For now.
PGA Tour player Obrerholser fired back to Shipnuck:
Press your blazer—the USGA is hiring If you looking dashing in a brass-buttoned blazer and have a good sense for what’s good for the good of the game, have we got the job for you … executive director of the United States Golf Association! In the wake of David Fay’s departure, the USGA is now taking casting calls. In a statement, USGA President Jim Hyler said:
“We plan to conduct a thorough search that includes both internal and external candidates, and hope to have a new executive director in place within the next three to four months.”
Here are five candidates Press Tent would love to see fill the gig tomorrow:
1. Nancy Pelosi—yeah, we know she’s a Democrat, but her gavel would still command respect in executive committee meetings
2. Donald Trump—the USGA is always looking for good marketing ideas, and the Donald’s full of them. His biggest challenge: deciding which Trump course gets the U.S. Open
3. Tony Dungy—proven leader/inspirer who can seemingly say or do no wrong, an important quality to possess in stuffy grill rooms. Loves blazers, too
4. Snooki—Being John Daly might have been a bust, but tell me you wouldn’t watch The Jersey Shore: Far Hills 5. This guy—who undoubtedly would put pace of play on the top of his agenda:
Do you know your Steinberg-speak? Vanity Fair had some fun with news of Tiger’s latest sponsorship deal gone sour (Golf Digest). Here’s a clever quiz VF’s web site posted to “see if you can match each of Woods’s dropped sponsors with [agent Mark] Steinberg’s subsequent statements.” Good luck. I failed miserably…
4. Golf Digest
A. “[Redacted] is ending their ‘Champions’ campaign. That is the reason for not continuing.”
B. “The reality is his deal was up at the end of the year.”
C. “[Redacted] has made a decision to not continue with their sponsorship. We are disappointed but respect their decision.”
D. “While we are disappointed [redacted] has decided to not continue with Tiger in their marketing plans, we appreciate their continued involvement with Tiger through his foundation.”
E. No comment.
1. D, 2. A, 3. E, 4. B, 5. C