Michelle Wie has been disqualified from her first professional tournament after a reporter for Sports Illustrated told tournament officials that he thought she had violated tour rules when she dropped a ball too far from its original landing spot.
No one has suggested that Wie intentionally did anything improper—which means that the real story here is whether the reporter's actions were appropriate. Was it ethical for a reporter to involve himself in a golf tournament in such a manner? The answer is no.
According to the AP story linked to above, "Michael Bamberger, a reporter for Sports Illustrated, told tour officials Sunday afternoon that he was concerned about the drop."
"Asked why he didn't bring it up before the third round ended"—when Wie could have avoided disqualification— "Bamberger said, 'That didn't occur to me. I was still in my reporter's mode. I wanted to talk to her first.'"
As time passed, Bamberger added, "I thought about it more and was just uncomfortable that I knew something. Integrity is at the heart of the game. I don't think she cheated. I think she was just hasty."
Let's review. By his own admission, Bamberger stepped out of reporter mode when raising the issue with tour officials. He thinks integrity is at the heart of golf, but he doesn't think Wie cheated—so what integrity is at stake? Then, when it's too late to rectify the error, Bamberger causes Wie to be disqualified from her first pro tournament. He doesn't do it because he's reporting a story, but because he's "uncomfortable that [he] knew something."
What an unfortunate incident; Bamberger shouldn't sleep well about this one. He should publicly apologize to Wie, and Sports Illustrated should pay her the $50,000 that she lost because of Bamberger, who—not Wie—is really the one who crossed the line.