Dustin Johnson won the US Open at Oakmont despite having to play a large chunk of his final round not knowing if he would have to take a penalty stroke for a ball that moved just prior to a putt.
Johnson’s entire round — and thus the entire championship — hung in the balance over a controversial moment on the fifth green.
As he stood over the ball to putt for par on hole 5, Johnson’s ball moved ever so slightly. It’s extremely hard to tell from the video whether or not Johnson’s putter caused the ball to move, or whether it simply moved on its own, but if the USGA rules that Johnson did cause the moment, he will receive a one-stroke penalty.
Here’s the moment:
Perhaps most cruelly of all, the USGA told Johnson that they would not rule until after he finishes the round. And so, Johnson played the back-9 at Oakmont on Sunday at the US Open — in contention for his first major championship — with a possible one-stroke penalty looming over him and Shane Lowry just one stroke back.
As if Oakmont wasn’t challenging enough on its own.
In the end, other contenders fell off the pace. Johnson finished at 4-under, three strokes better than three other golfers, including Lowry. When the penalty was added after the round, it no longer mattered.
Here’s Jeff Hall of the USGA explaining on live TV why the USGA made the decision to tell Johnson, but not rule immediately.
Fellow PGA tour players — the ones not in contention here — have taken to Twitter to bash the USGA for its handling of the situation.
Don’t cheat the children USGA!! Let the kids play!!
— Smylie Kaufman (@SmylieKaufman10) June 19, 2016
Lemme get this straight.. DJ doesn’t address it. It’s ruled that he didn’t cause it to move. Now you tell him he may have? Now? This a joke?
— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) June 19, 2016
In 2010 at Whistling Straights, Johnson unintentionally grounded his club in a bunker, which cost him the PGA Championship. Last year, he gifted Jordan Spieth the US Open on the 18th green.
Luckily for Johnson, the rules debacle didn’t have any impact on the result, finishing at four-under for the tournament to win his first major title.
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