Dustin Johnson's Terrible Two
By mustang6560 on 8/16/10
by Nathan Trifone, oobgolf Contributor

I am not sure who to be mad at, but boy let me tell you, I'm pissed! In case you didn't see what happened, Dustin Johnson was leading going into the 18th hole and was penalized two strokes for grounding his club in what ended up being one of the 12,000,000 bunkers at Whistling Straits.
A controversial rules violation marred the final round of the PGA Championship on Sunday and cost Dustin Johnson a spot in a playoff and a possible major title.

Johnson grounded his club in what was deemed to be a bunker before his second shot, leading to a 2-stroke penalty.
Johnson had a one stroke lead going into the 18th hole. After an errant tee shot, he hit his second shot from what looked like nothing more than a pile of dirt. Dustin finished the hole with a bogie and thought he was headed for a 3-way playoff with Martin Kaymer (the eventual winner) and Bubba Watson.

The rules official stopped Johnson after he putted out to inform him of the penalty. This dropped Johnson out of the playoff and into a tie for fifth place for the tournament.

When I first heard about this (admittedly I was out playing golf while this was happening), I blamed the Rules Official for not warning Johnson prior to the violation. Then I got mad at Dustin's caddie for not stepping up and questioning the "sandy" area. I even got mad at the crowd for standing in the "bunker" (if you watch the highlights, you'll see the entire gallery was in the "bunker" with Dustin).

The whole situation is terrible. You hate to see anyone lose out on a chance to win on a technicality - even your worst enemy. I think Dustin will have nightmares about this shot for years to come. The 'what ifs' are going to haunt him. What if I hadn't hit such a poor tee shot? What if Bobby Brown (Johnson's caddie) would have chimed in to question the ground? What if the Rules Official would have warned me?

However, Dustin cannot blame anyone but himself. In a perfect world, the Rules Official and/or Bobby would have warned him before the shot. But at the end of the day, the buck stops with Dustin. I really feel for him and I hope he, along with every other Pro, takes this as an learning opportunity.


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[ comments ]
Kaster says:
What a sham, Bubba and Martin should have refused to play out of protest, but maybe that's just me...
8/16/10
 
rmumph1 says:
Another stupid rule that needs to be changed, he would not have intentionally grounded the club to the determine lie if he knew it was a bunker. Did no one else do that all weekend. The crowd was in it with him, to lose a major on that is plain dumb.
8/16/10
 
Eric Duquene says:
I agree with Kaster. If he had been a golfer with a name starting with T and ending with iger, the ruling would have been much different. You dont let the gallery trample a bunker all week. Do you think they would have allowed the gallery to do this at Augusta? And there is no way to tell where the hazard truly ends. There is no defined edge. His ball could have been sitting in sand that was tracked out of the hazard by the gallery. Does that mean that sand kicked out of a greenside bunker onto the green creates hazards on the green that you cant ground out your putter. If you cant definitively prove where the hazard ends, you cant say for certain that he was in the bunker and at that point cannot assess a penalty. It was poor play all around by the PGA.
8/16/10
 
Eric Duquene says:
Also the spirit of the rule is to prevent someone from testing the condition of the sand in a hazard or improving the lie. Neither of which he was doing or did.
8/16/10
 
bducharm says:
I totally disagree with the posts so far. The conditions of play were given to each player when they checked in for the tournament. If Dustin did not read the local rules (which he admitted that he did not) then it is his own fault. Admittedly, I'm sure his mind was going a million miles an hour but during those times you have to slow down and think. Also, his caddie is another pair of eyes that should have said something as well. The rules of golf are not always fair. However, it is what it is and as players we must abide by those rules. Sorry guys - the PGA is NOT to blame. They did what they were supposed to do.
8/16/10
 
Kaster says:
rmumph1, Great point. Odds are this same situation happened several times throughout the tournament, maybe even to Bubba, but no one realized since the whole world wasn't watching at the time. I'm sure if they go back and watch all of the footage they would find several penalties.
8/16/10
 
Eric Duquene says:
How can you use "local rules" for a MAJOR championship? Regardless all bunkers should have been clearly marked and the gallery kept out of them. Either cut down on the crowd you allow in or choose another venue that is more convenient for the crowd you are going to let in. They showed a shot of a little girl earlier in the week building a sand castle in one of the "bunkers".
8/16/10
 
bducharm says:
@Kaster and @rmumph1, I am sure that if guys had done that during their play, having seen what happened to Dustin, they would report that and disqualified themselves from the tournament for signing an incorrect scorecard. Golf is a game of honor and respect. I bring up JP Hayes, who disqualified himself from Tour school for using a non-conforming ball when NOBODY else knew it. Also, I'm not sure anyone hit a drive any further right on 18 than Dustin did - damn that was a flare!!!
8/16/10
 
preny says:
It ruined the finish but rules are rules. You can't exempt someone because it was for the trophy on 72...

That being said, the crowd was frankly obnoxious extremely poorly controlled - I could see at least one 'patron' SITTING on the lip of the bunker as if to obscure its existence even more with his laziness.
8/16/10
 
mustang6560 says:
I can totally see how Dustin and his caddie did not notice the "bunker" because of the environmental factor. If I was playing and the crowd of people were standing all around me like a normal shot, why would I think my lie is anything unique?
8/16/10
 
Agustin says:
Bottom line is that the rules of golf specify that the player is responsible for knowing the rules. The PGA posted notices all over the locker room including each of the player's lockers stating that all bunkers where in play and not Waste Areas; regardless of their condition or if they were trampled by the gallery. Not that it matters but I believe this was a stupid rule and any bunker accessible to the gallery should be ruled a waste area.
8/16/10
 
dottomm says:
It was a tough call, but even the sportscasters where highlighting that there were bunkers EVERYWHERE. Even in places (like behind the tee's, and under the tall grass) that didn't seem like a normal place to put them.

I blame Pete Dye.
8/16/10
 
Optimus Prime says:
I could tell where the bunker ended. From my vantage point, it looked like the ball was outside the "bunker". Question: If someone kicks sand outside the bunker, is that sand considered part of the bunker?

Lots of people are upset, but I don't think the local rules could have made it anymore plain than they did.
8/16/10
 
mbagnola says:
Personally I would have no problem with the PGA officials calling it a bunker, if the had cleared the gallery out of it for him to hit. Can anyone remember any other time in history where the gallery got to stand in a bunker with a pro?
8/16/10
 
wrhall02 says:
If the PGA hadn't gone out of their way to explain before the Tourney that there are bunkers everywhere (even beyond the ropes and they ARE considered bunkers, not waste areas), then I can see the "gray area" discussions. The question was really simple, did Dustin ground the club or not...

I was really pulling for Bubba in the playoff. I think he made a terrible decision on where to take relief on the 3rd playoff hole...maybe he should read Matt's blog on Hazards and opine!

Props to Kaymer, his future looks very promising. What a great putt he sunk on 18 (regulation), and he was very "smart" on the 3rd playoff hole.
8/16/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
The rules are the rules and must be followed. Having said that, I have never understood why it is a two stroke penalty. If you take a swing and miss the ball completely but hit the sand, your club touches the sand, you get a good feel for the consistency of the sand, and you only loose one stroke. If your club touches the sand by accident, it cost you two strokes.
8/16/10
 
birdieXris says:
@tennessee - he grounded his club twice. 1 stroke each time. Once on the practice and once on the actual address.
8/16/10
 
windowsurfer says:
Two-stroke pen for grounding (no matter how often he touched down). Think there coulda been another, separate two-stroke pen if his caddy entered into or set the bag down in the trap. Anyway, when he grounded his club, I figured he must be just barely outside of the trap on a bit of sand that had been shifted by all the spectators. It looked that way to me, but apparently not. PLUS, if his ball was in the trap but he grounded his club outside of the hazard, that's legal. Phew! I guess that official should have fought his way thru to the ball.
8/16/10
 
BlameMe says:
@BirdieXris - "In taking his address, Player A rests the bottom of the club on the ground. Rule 13-4 does not permit grounding the club in a sand bunker or water hazard. Hence, Player A must incur a two-stroke penalty. In match play, the penalty is loss of hole."

Grounding your club once results in a two stroke penalty, I thought he grounded it twice but I understand because it wasn't part of his swing it only counted as one infraction (the PGA official mentioned something like that last night). If you did it twice and got a penalty for each, he should then have a 4 stroke penalty.

I also think the blame is all with the player and his caddie, I think Farhety (sic) said when ever he found his ball on what looked like sand or waste ground he would make sure he did not ground his club before hitting the ball just in case.

CBS should of played back the graphic of Dustin's shot which showed it land in the bunker from the tee (that would be the graphic of the ball flight with the Google map mapped below).
8/16/10
 
BlameMe says:
As the clearly showed it landing in the bunker and would of gone some way to clearing up whether it was or not a bunker in the first place.

People were saying they could not see the lip,well I could and it was a big lip, you could even see some woman sitting on the edge of it it was that big.

Its fun this game but a bitch at times ;-)
8/16/10
 
birdieXris says:
@window - true i stand corrected, however the golf channel needs to be corrected. They said it this morning that it was one stroke a piece. I THOUGHT that was wrong. I just didn't feel like looking it up. LOL
8/16/10
 
windowsurfer says:
This is pretty arcane stuff! Here's another question: IF Watney + Johnson had decided it was outside of the hazard and played it so, is that the end of the issue, irrespective of TV replays? I know this didn't happen, but I'm just saying what if? Or if they had conferred and Watney woulda said, "I can't say for sure, get a ruling," then THAT on-the-course decision would have ended it, right? Again - regardless of what the replay may or may not have shown?
8/16/10
 
carv712 says:
You cannot blame the PGA for enforcing a rule that it created and informed it's players about; however, the rule is a crock of Sh*t. Obviously the PGA decided it was more important to make some extra dough, and pack the course extra tight. They opted to allow crowds to form on hilly bunkered areas trampling all over areas they knew could be reached by the players. Its pretty simple: if the bunkers are in play then don't allow spectators to walk, sit, nap, jog, jump or doing anything else inside them. They don't let us sun bathe on greenside bunkers, do they? The other option is to make those areas waste areas that are not subject to bunker rules.
8/16/10
 
Eric Duquene says:
Also for the people saying that a rule is a rule and you must adhere to the rules to keep the "integrity" of the game. I say only this. Rules were put in place for a reason. That reason was to keep a fair and level playing field for all. THAT is how they keep the integrity of game. The SPIRIT of the rule and WHY it was instituted should be followed to keep fairness both between people who violate the rules and those who don't. The spirit of the grounding in a hazard rule is two-fold. 1. So that you cannot improve your lie in the sand. 2. So that you cant gauge how loose the sand is. Neither of which Justin did. I think if anything forcing the 2 stroke penalty VIOLATED the integrity of the game through using the rule to knock down a man who did not give himself any unfair advantage.
8/16/10
 
Eric Duquene says:
And somehow I cant find a single shot of the area before or after his stroke. All I can find is the view from in front of him right after the moment of impact. I find this VERY strange that even though the TV feed was there for about a half hour no one has footage of it.
8/16/10
 
bducharm says:
@windowsurfer - if Watney had come over and gave Dustin the wrong ruling, Dustin still gets penalized. Each group had an official walking with them. All Dustin had to do was call the official over and that is it. Not sure if everyone remembers the US Open that Ernie Els won at Oakmont (1994?). He was give the wrong ruling by an official for a free drop. Els was not penalized for that because an official made it "official".
8/16/10
 
windowsurfer says:
@bducharm - yeh, probably so, even tho the hazard boundary was less than distinct. I would like to know when the walking official who was with them actually got to the ball? Did he make the ruling based on witnessing the shot in person/examining the area to confirm the ball was in the hazard or was the call based solely on TV replay, seen by the rules committee in the clubhouse or maybe an official right in the TV truck?
8/16/10
 
joegolf68 says:
The player is responsible for knowing the rules so even if he were misinformed it would have made no difference. I read about another player who did the the last time at the Straights. It was in last week's Golf Week, I think it might have been Elkington that did it and cost him a second place to fifth or so, memory isn't what it used to be.

I've been reading and re-reading the rules of golf lately as well as the decisions of golf, a real snoozer. The more I read, the more I realize this game is crazy when it comes to the rules. How can we even play without a "committee" to determine our every move, lol?

That all said, I think the PGA should have declared all of these areas as waste bunkers like they use to have at the TPC until recently. Too often the rules are contrary to common sense. Maybe they need a common sense rule that overrides all the stillness. :)
8/16/10
 
cjgiant says:
No one here has brought up the point Dustin himself brought up that would have made this an even worse story for Dustin (and I believe the PGA): what if he had made the putt to "win"?

Given he only made a playoff, victory wasn't officially "stolen" from him. But given the questionable nature of the bunker, for the PGA to take the trophy from Johnson's hands I believe would have caused more of an outcry.

My thoughts/opinions from what I saw: the ball was in an overflow from a bunker; regardless, Dustin or his caddy should have been cautious given the local rules; given the design of the course, the "ill-defined" nature of the bunkers should have prompted a different local rule for bunkers outside the ropes. The rule itself is not stupid, it's application in this specific case, in my opinion, was poor.
8/16/10
 
georgelohr says:
If Dustin could do it over again, he would have started over at the tee box and hit a better drive.
8/16/10
 
edditude says:
Was listening to some of the talk shows today. A former champion said when he played he made it a point to go over the rules handed him everyday. Especially when your in the lead the cameras are going to take a closer focus on you.
Dustin was keenly aware of the cameras around him and the pga officials were all focused on him at this point.
I played a tournament over the weekend and was handed a rules guideline I had to follow. I lost a ball and had to play provisionals 3 times do to lost balls in high shag grass.
8/16/10
 
TeT says:
Yeah, DJ new he was in a sand trap right after he grounded the heel of his club the first time... Go look at the replay again. He snatched it up and asked right then and there if it was sand. Thats why he went for the pin with his 2nd instead of on front of green for a 2 putt.

The PGA had notices posted to all the players and in the locker rooms warning all the players about the rules regarding the vast amount of bunkers and how they would play with all the spectator traffic etc...

Kudos to DJ for making sure before signing his card, that was still a huge payday for him.
8/16/10
 
edditude says:
Also don't forget the caddie had the bag standing in the bunker which is a violation in itself. It was a no win situation from that point on.
8/16/10
 
birdieXris says:
Pete Dye is on the GOlf Fix right now talking about it. Also, i don't see the caddie having the bag in the bunker. Dustin is standing outside and then there's like 3 or 4 feet to the spectators in the bunker, that's it. There's a bag, but it's like, a shoe bag or something from a spectator.
8/16/10
 
falcon50driver says:
I hate bunkers anyway, This is one course I definitely will not be playing. On top of that, I've lost a lot of respect for Pete Dye as a course designer. It looks like a piece of crap to me.
8/16/10
 
erickbelus says:
Everyone can scream from the rooftops that it was an injustice, but his caddy should have called for a ruling on the lie. Dustin needs to focus on the shot, his caddy on the course. It was a posted rule for a 900+ bunker course. If you are in sand at that place, you need to play it as a bunker or get a ruling. I was there, there's a ton of sand.
8/17/10
 
Matt F says:
@joegolf68 - It was Stuart Appleby...he got a 4 stroke penalty and was 5 back at the time.

The only reason the course got the event is because the owner (some billionaire) threw a bunch of money at the PGA. There's been talk elsewhere that the course shouldn't be hosting events of that caliber but got to do so because of the money.

Matt
8/17/10
 
ToddRobb says:
This whole thing I find very interesting. I was watching with my wife( who is not a golfer), AS IT HAPPENED when he grounded his club I said "it looks like he grounded his club, that's a penalty" she said "what do you mean?", I go on to explain how you can't ground the club in a bunker. I didn't think it was a bunker until I saw a woman sitting on the edge of the "bunker" almost right in front of him as he was lining up the shot. I didn't even occur to me that it wasn't a bunker. After he hit the shot, for the next few minutes I'm rambling on about how could they not even mention that he was possibly in a bunker. Come to find out there were golfers in the clubhouse watching on television that were saying "watch out" as he was getting ready to ground his club.
8/17/10
 
ToddRobb says:
At the end of the day, he admittedly did not read the rule book, so it's totally his fault. The only person to blame is himself, not the course, not the crowd standing in the bunker, not the rules official that was walking with their group, not his caddie. He was in a major championship and didn't think it was a good idea to at least take a look at the local rules??? I say shame on you Dustin.
8/17/10
 
ToddRobb says:
Champions do things to become champions, not reading the local rules is something that someone that doesn't deserve to win would do. At least he made $270,000 for his T5 finish.
8/17/10
 
jev says:
He should've known it's a bunker. It's fairly obvious from the video (go to www.pga.com/pgachampionship/2010/multimedia/vide , select "Johnson's Hazardous Finish", it's right in the beginning). Also, all players where warned about the numerous bunkers and the possibility of people walking through them.

It is a ridiculous course featuring those 1200-something bunkers...
8/17/10
 
birdieXris says:
So i turned on Golf Central this morning and what was the first thing i saw? Dustin Johnson hitting his bunker shot. Then after that was an interview with 3 other people on why it was a bunker, then an interview with Pete Dye on why it was a bunker, then an interview with a golf channel correspondent that said it was stupid because it wasn't raked, then a list of people who blew up after leading the major just like DJ. Then there was something about the rider cup for like 2 minutes, then back to the rules of golf and the sand trap and David Feherty standing over the bunker commenting on it's looks.

Ughh. is it thursday yet? I think it's time for a new tournament and something else to talk about.
8/17/10
 
Optimus Prime says:
What's really ridiculous is that they don't know how many bunkers there really are on this course.
8/17/10
 
TWUES17 says:
@Tet: he wasn't questioning whether it was a bunker, he was asking the gallery to move so that there wasn't a spot of light between shadows that was directly on his ball.

I thought the same thing but when you hear the audio he is clearly talking about the shadow and not asking if it was a bunker.
8/17/10
 
Banker85 says:
i reallt felt for him after pebble now this... too bad but Dustin is a really good player and will have his major sooner rather than later. I was wondering if he wuld have made the putt on 18 thinking he won that would have been worse!

I love that course, think it is definetely worthy of hosting a major. And its not that Dustin didnt know the rules, its just he didnt slow down enough to think "hey i might be in a bunker" we all make dumb mistakes.
8/17/10
 
c5agalb says:
I think DJ was more concerned about clearing the crowd out of the way to hit the shot. It was a mental lapse on his part being caught up in the moment before taking the shot on the 72nd hole. The whole rule with the penalty is stupid.
8/17/10
 
cjgiant says:
I think it's obvious there is a bunker there. I think it's obvious he was on sand. I do not think it is "obvious" he was IN said bunker, and not in a patch of sand the crowd dragged out of the bunker. I see what I take to be the left lip (from camera angle) of the bunker curving on an arc that seems like it may have cut in front of DJ's ball before being "destroyed". Or maybe not. It's close enough he should have considered that possibility.
8/17/10
 
davyz says:
@ToddRobb: It's funny you mentioned that cause when I was watching the telecast live, I thought it was weird that he just grounded the club the first time as I thought his ball was in a bunker, but then I was questioning myself and thought maybe I didn't know the rules and he wasn't actually in the bunker. I never thought for one second that a PGA tour player would not clearly know the rules.

I feel bad for DJ, but he screwed this one up himself, and the PGA tour had no choice but to inflict the 2-shot penalty.
8/17/10
 
davyz says:
@Eric Duquene: Very good point on rules are meant for fair play and keeping the integrity of the game. In general, I feel that this rule and many rules in golf are stupid and the penalties are too harsh such as if you address the ball and the ball moves inadvertently, it's also a penalty. I think they should add a rule where if a committee can deem that the player had no intent to break the rule and breaking the rule did not help the player, they can overrule a rules violation, which would've helped Dustin in this instance, but I can also see how that can create even more controversies on various decisions the committees end up making.
8/17/10
 
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