Golf is a great game wrapped in regulations which encourage those with a pernickety bent.

We're not talking about those who putt well on a certain type of grass, although Lexi Thompson's gaffe in this week's LPGA's opening major zeroed in on her rules violation on the green.

Close-up footage showed she broke the rules when she marked her ball then replaced it in a different spot. The rationale may have been as simple as forgetfulness or something more sinister but it is irrelevant.

Thompson broke the rules and retrospectively, after a viewer's complaint, was penalised two shots then an additional two strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard.


I have no issue with the initial two-shot penalty nor would any pro golfer with a genuine grasp of the rules and golfing etiquette. Thompson messed up but the two-shot penalty should have been the end of it.

We don't need a pixel geek sending an email to the LPGA for a retrospective decision to be delivered the next day to Thompson as she moved deep into her final round.

Until public intervention is curbed, that controversy will encourage the small-minded who tune into the Masters to get in front of a massive TV and activate their recording machines for four days of intensive nitpicking as the men pursue their opening major ambitions at Augusta.

If limited brain power is one of the core planks to a strong showing then Dustin Johnson will carry extra support alongside his favourite tag.

A few years back when Johnson first dated his daughter Paulina, ice-hockey great Wayne Gretsky said he'd never met anyone as dumb as his daughter until she hooked up with the golfer. That portrayal has followed Johnson through his controversial troubles on tour to his No1 ranking.

But he understands the magnitude of favouritism and winning around Augusta. No one has achieved that since Tiger Woods in 2005.

A year ago Jordan Spieth was about to break that pattern and win successive titles until his game collapsed at the short 12th for Englishman Danny Willett to charge past for his unlikely win and a hosting job at this week's champions' dinner.

Few would put Willett near a list of those favoured to win this year. However, the Masters has a way of delivering quirky storylines and away from the course the tournament has led those categories since the first event in 1934.

In the last 20 years there have been victories for Trevor Immelmann, Mike Weir, Zac Johnson and Willett which confounded expectations. Those triumphs were delicious in their difference. We championed those men who held their nerve, managed to make the shots, hit the putts and get to the finish line ahead of the rest of the field.

They shut out the distractions around them and rode their rising anxiety uphill at the dogleg right finishing hole. Men like Adam Scott and ngel Cabrera who both birdied the final hole to go into a 2013 playoff.

That was the year when 14-year-old Tianlang Guan was the lone amateur to make the cut after receiving the first slow-play penalty in Masters' history. Wonder if he was dobbed in by a viewer or were officials in sole charge of their tournament?