Golf - Fans no longer able to call shots on rule violations

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(Reuters) - Golf officials will no longer consider rules violations pointed out by fans watching tournaments on television, the United States Golf Association and R&A said on Monday.

The two governing bodies said in a statement they would "discontinue any steps to facilitate or consider viewer call-ins as part of the Rules decision process".

The USGA and R&A said that starting Jan. 1 one or more officials would be assigned to monitor the video broadcast of a competition to help identify and resolve rules issues as they arose.

Video review will be limited to material obtained from the committee’s broadcast partner. Other video, such as from an individual’s smartphone or camera, will not be used.

“The level of collaboration with our partners has been both vital and gratifying as we look to the future,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director of the Rules of Golf and Amateur Status.

“As technology has continued to evolve, it has allowed us to evolve how we operate, as well.”

As television coverage of golf events has become more comprehensive a debate has raged over whether those watching from home should be able to impact a competition.

The issue was brought into the spotlight in April when Lexi Thompson took a four-shot penalty that cost her victory at the ANA Inspiration, one of women's golf's majors.

Thompson had been leading by three in the final round and walking to the 13th tee with her second major title in sight when she was stopped by a rules official, who told her of the penalty.

A television viewer had alerted the LPGA that the American had marked her ball and replaced it in the wrong place on the 17th hole in the third round, costing her two shots for the breach and another two for signing an incorrect scorecard.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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