Can the Villegas Incident be Avoided?

After talking long-time rules official Frank Hannigan, Golf Observer's Sal Johnson has come up with a solution that should avoid the types of incidents that disqualified Camilo Villegas from the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Maui.

In the first round, a television viewer spotted the Colombian star chipping up the slope to the 15th green when his shot stopped short of the putting surface and rolled back toward him, twice. On his second attempt, Villegas walked over and knocked away some loose pieces of grass in front of the divot as the ball was still moving down the slope.

That is a violation of Rule 23-1, which says: "When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed." The penalty is two shots. Villegas opened with a 1-under 72, but because he didn't call the penalty on himself he was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. The DQ happened on Friday, before the start of the second round, and on Villegas's 29th birthday.

Johnson believes the solution is simple: have the PGA Tour and other professional circuits make available personnel to monitor all broadcasts and, when an infraction is noted, deal with it immediately instead of after the round.

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