"We've made some changes in light of Oakmont" - R&A officials looking to avoid farcical scenes which marred US Open

Officials of the USGA were heavily criticised for how they handled an infringement by Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson

Image: Ben Curtis / AP/Press Association Images

Officials at this week's Open Championship were quick to insist that there would be no repeat of the farcical scenes which marred the final round of this year's US Open.

Dustin Johnson earned a maiden major championship last month but on his way to doing so was punished for an infringement after he moved the ball a fraction while lining up a putt.

Officials in the USGA decided to wait until after he completed his final round to review the tape and impose a one stroke penalty, leading to mass confusion as to what score he was on and whether he would mentally hindered by the prospect of a penalty stroke.

In made no difference in the end, but the USGA were widely criticised widely for failing to act and impacting on the concentration of not only Johnson, but the players around him.

"The team here have been thinking about how to respond and monitor any sort of chain of command around rules for over 10 years now," said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers told the press.

"And about 10 years ago a fundamental change was made by the team here which I think makes a big difference in the way we would deal with any situation that arises in the next four days, which is that the chief referee doesn’t leave this compound here.

"He has access to video replays in his office and in addition to that, either Peter (Unsworth) or I are also always here.

"All sorts of things can happen and generally do happen in this game. It is the speed and the clarity with which we respond and I think it’s a function of us sitting here, just about 50 yards away, being able to respond and provide instructions back to the referees.

"The rules meeting was this morning and the process by which the information goes from the walking referees to our rovers and back into the chief referee’s office was discussed, clarified and reinforced.

"I think we’re pretty good at getting that right. We’ve made some changes in the light of Oakmont and being more prescriptive.

"But I would say the referees that we have here are highly experienced referees. A lot of them work on the major tours and the major amateur events all year around. We have the best professional referees coming from the tours here as well.

"Our feeling is that the standard of the refereeing that will be out there this weekend is second to none."

Via The Irish Times

news cards