Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Controversy over ball-moving ruling consumes U.S. Open (w/ video)

OAKMONT, Pa. — Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open on Sunday, surviving a controversial and drawn-out discussion about a rules infraction that had players and fans ripping the USGA on social media and the crowd booing the USGA during the trophy presentation.

The chaos started with Johnson having a short par putt on the fifth hole. After taking a few practice strokes, he placed the putter behind the ball, and the ball moved slightly backward. Johnson stepped back, called over the rules official and told the official he didn't cause the ball to move. No penalty was assessed by the official, and Johnson tapped in for par.

Later, a staff member said on the radio that it might be worth another look, said Jeff Hall, senior director of rules and Open championships for the USGA. The USGA thought Johnson should know that his score might be one shot worse than it was, so it told him on the 12th tee.

"After looking at video, the actions he took could have caused the ball to move," Hall said. "We asked if there was some other reason the ball could have moved. He didn't state a reason."

The USGA said it would make a final ruling after the final round was over, which led to confusion over the entire back nine — for Johnson and the players trying to catch him.

Johnson thought he wasn't going to be penalized because he believed he hadn't done anything wrong.

But it was clear where the USGA was heading. Hall went on the Fox telecast of the tournament while play was still ongoing to say it appeared Johnson inadvertently moved the ball with his putter, which would be a one-shot penalty.

"That's certainly what we saw when we looked at the video," he said, "that Dustin moved it."

After the round, the USGA announced it had penalized Johnson one stroke, which made his final-round score 1-under 69 and gave him a three-shot win at 4-under 276.

"I think it's very unfair to the player," said Jack Nicklaus, who won the Open at Oakmont in 1962 and greeted Johnson as he came off the green. "They said, 'What did cause the ball to move?' He said 'I don't know.' We all know they can move any time."

Said Johnson: "I felt like I wasn't going to be penalized, so I just went about my business."

Dustin Johnson talks with a rules official on the fifth green after he notices his ball move slightly before a putt.

Getty Images

Dustin Johnson talks with a rules official on the fifth green after he notices his ball move slightly before a putt.

Controversy over ball-moving ruling consumes U.S. Open (w/ video) 06/19/16 [Last modified: Monday, June 20, 2016 12:49am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College basketball scandal dips into Tampa Bay


    Tuesday's national college basketball scandal has recruiting ties to Tampa Bay.

    In this March 15, 2012, file photo, San Diego State assistant coach Tony Bland, left, talks during NCAA college basketball practice in Columbus, Ohio. Bland was identified in court papers, and is among 10 people facing federal charges in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. [AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File]
  2. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  3. For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Blake Snell starting, Wilson Ramos cashing in


    The Rays open their final road series of the season tonight at Yankee Stadium, which is also where they played their first of the season.

    Tonight marks Wilson Ramos' 55th start of the season.
  4. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments


    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Alex Volkov with a top-six showcase for Lightning


    Alex Volkov entered Lightning camp a bit of an unknown, the second-round pick from Russia in his first NHL camp.

    Alex Volkov (79) works to stop Florida Panthers center Denis Malgin (62) during the second period of Sunday's game in Tampa.