Sunday, August 15, 2010

A rule is a rule ... I guess

What a little mess the PGA Championship -- golf's final major of the season -- turned out to be.

First off, let me say this, had the name involved been Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, not Dustin Johnson, this would be an even bigger deal.

See Johnson had a one-shot lead heading into the 18th hole of the PGA before hitting his tee shot well right into the gallery. There his ball stood on a small patch of dirt, sand, whatever you want to call it surrounded by fans.

Johnson grounded his club (touching the dirt with it before swinging for his shot), hit a bad second shot, settled for bogey and what appeared to be a three-way playoff with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer. (Like I said, if the names we're talking about were bigger, this would be a bigger deal.)

When Johnson walked off the final hole, a rules official said he might get hit with a two-shot penalty for grounding his club in a bunker, a no-no in golf. Johnson said he didn't even know it was a bunker and looking at it on TV, I agree. It just looked like a piece of trampled ground where the spectators were standing.

So, after several minutes, Johnson indeed was given the two-shot penalty, Kaymer beat Watson in the playoff for the title and the rest of us are left to wonder who was right.

I see both sides.

A rule is a rule and by all accounts, all golfers and their caddies were made aware of all the bunkers on the course, so Johnson hit from a bunker, so I guess grounding the club in that bunker is a penalty.

On the other hand, you're on the final hole of the PGA Championship, holding a one-shot lead. You're on a piece of ground that bears little to no resemblance to a bunker, so why would that thought ever cross your mind.

And, by the way, since the shot was so far off line in the gallery, where was an official who might have alerted him to that being a bunker? I know that's usually not his job, but this was an unusual situation.

In the end, there's blame to go everywhere. It's just sad a possible major golf title was lost because of it.

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