Dustin Johnson had a putt to win the PGA Championship, or so he thought. He received a controversial two stroke penalty on the 72nd hole – costing him a chance to win.
“Here it is right here, now this doesn’t look like a sandtrap does it? Just looks like grass. There’s a bunch of people standing in it here and there. Well that was his point. The point is, I wasn’t in a sand trap, but they’re saying no, right there, when you touched the ground that was a two stroke penalty. What’s that mean for him? He lost the chance to compete for his first major championship.” (HLN)
Dustin Johnson appeared headed to a playoff at the PGA Championship. But before signing his card – he was informed that he received a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a VERY controversial sand trap.
While the no-grounding rule seems fair enough, the controversy lies in whether this particular sand trap at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits — really was a sand trap at all. ESPN shares Johnson’s post-penalization reaction.
REPORTER 1: “Were you aware all week that even waste areas were considered bunkers here? I mean, that’s unusual. I mean, you should’ve read the sheet.”
DUSTIN JOHNSON “Yeah, I guess. Well, I mean, I even asked Nick, I said, ‘Did you know that?’ He didn’t know it either, so.”
REPORTER 2: “Had you looked at the rule sheet?”
DUSTIN JOHNSON: “No. I never looked at it. I only look at it if I had a reason to, and I didn’t think I had a reason to.”
But according to PGA Championship rules official Mark Wilson, officials took special measures to make golfers aware of this particular bunker rule. ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi brings the view of other golfers who watched the situation play out.
ANCHOR: “What’s the reaction from other players and fans out there that this has happened?
TOM RINALDI: “You know, it was interesting. While the scene was unfolding, there were some players in the locker room who clearly understood that Dustin Johnson was in jeopardy. And you could see them reacting in a way to say, ‘watch out now, watch out,’ because of the clear posting of that rule.”
So, who’s to blame? CNBC’s Melissa Francis and Darron Rovell go back and forth.
MELISSA FRANCIS: “Who’s really at fault here? I mean, the rule was posted everywhere, we’ve all heard that, it was in the locker rooms. Shouldn’t his caddy have reminded him? I’m blaming the caddy.”
DARRON ROVELL: “No, it’s he and his caddy, you wish a rules official was there to remind him.”
MELISSA FRANCIS: “Well, it was posted everywhere. It was on the card, I mean come on, it’s not the rules official.”
But a writer for The Tampa Tribune blames the course: “Whistling Straits is a bunker occasionally interrupted by grass. There are more than 1,200 of the sandy suckers on it, some the size of steam boats and others the size of divots. … In fact, there are so many bunkers at Whistling Straits that fans stood in them the whole tournament because, well, where else were they going to stand?”
So, what exactly did Johnson lose after his 18th hole penalty? CNBC reports it was more than a chance to win his first major championship; he lost a LOT of money: “So, let’s show you what he didn’t win. If he wasn’t assessed that penalty, got into the playoff, he could’ve won what Martin Kaymer won, that first place money of 1.35 million dollars. Or he could’ve at least picked up second place, or third place money, but his two stroke penalty resulted in a tie for fifth place, worth 270,833 [dollars], so winning versus fifth place is a loss of over 1 million dollars for Johnson. …”
So what do you think about Johnson’s mistake? His own fault? The course’s fault? Or just a silly rule?
WRITER: Kyrsten Skulborstad
No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.