Did Dustin Johnson get a raw deal?
The controversy at the end of last weekend's PGA Championship isn't going away. Dustin Johnson was knocked out of a playoff because of a two-stroke penalty on the 18th hole. Johnson's tee shot landed in the crowd, and the ball rested in a patch of sand that practically no one except the people at the Whistling Straights golf course considered a sand trap. Before hitting his shot, Johnson grounded his club, meaning he touched his club on the ground as he addressed the ball. Instead of finishing in a three-way tie and qualifying for a playoff, Johnson finished two shots behind the leaders.
Now, check out what long-time golf writer John Feinstein wrote on his blog:
On Monday, I talked to five different rules officials I know well. Here's the synopsis of what they all said: "Officiating 101 -- when a player hits a ball into a crowd you go there RIGHT AWAY. You have to establish the state of the ball. Did it hit someone? Did it get stepped on? Is it on someone's lap? Under someone's chair? In a hazard?.'' Next step: "Make sure the player knows you're there. His mind can be anywhere at that moment. Let him know you’re there to help AND if he's in a hazard, REMIND HIM.' Usually those last two words apply to water, where a spot might be red-staked but it is a little more than a ditch and a player's ball may be on dry land but still in the hazard. "Usually what you say is something like, 'now you know you're in the hazard,' said one -- 'even though 99 times out of 100 they know. You don't want the 100th time to become a disaster.' ''
Click here to read Feinstein's excellent post. (Thanks to the TheBigLead.com for uncovering the Feinsten story.)