August 16th, 2010
by Jason Henry
KOHLER, WI - AUGUST 15: Dustin Johnson hits his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the 92nd PGA Championship on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits on August 15, 2010 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

On a day where neither Tiger nor Phil was in contention to win the year’s final major, this year’s PGA Championship had enough story lines for the entire season. There was the cool; under 20 crowd that includes Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Martin Kaymer and, Rory McIlroy.

There was also news that Tiger Woods went as low as 5 under in an attempt to catch the leaders, but ended up bogeying his way to 2 under and another average finish. Phil continued to fight arthritis and finished 6 under par for the tourney. Only one major this year for Phil, but it was probably the one he wanted the most in the Masters.

Today belonged to the youngsters again. Nick Watney, another 20 something, started the day with the clubhouse lead at 13 under. He was paired with Dustin Johnson as they both had chances to walk out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin with the first major championship of their young lives.

But they say that youth is wasted on the young and today that may have been the case. Fast forward to the last few holes of the tournament and everything is turned upside down. Watney ended his day with an 81, 4 under par for the day. Johnson stayed steady and did not have a Pebble type meltdown as he did in this year’s U.S. Open.

Speaking of Dustin, his story is the most interesting of the day. On the 18th hole Johnson blocked his tee shot and it ended up deep in the crowd on the right hand side of the fairway. Dustin’s ball landed in a dust bowl type of area and it was surrounded by spectators at least twenty deep.

Before his takeaway Dustin grounded his club, which is normal routine. Lines it up, gives it a rip, and lets it fly. Johnson’s ball ends up the rough to the left and sort of the green. Dustin takes a dig at his ball out of the rough and lands it about 5 or 6 feet short of the pin. If Dustin is to make his putt he will be the 2010 PGA Championship winner.

Instead he pushed his putt right and off we go into a three way playoff between Bubba Watson, Dustin, and Martin Kaymer. But as my mans and them Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend!”

As soon as Dustin removes his cap to shake hands with his playing partners a PGA rules official approaches Dustin to tell him that there may be a problem.

When Dustin’s tee shot landed amongst the people in the dust bin, it apparently was a bunker, at least according to the rules. According to a PGA official a bunker consists of sand and may have tire tracks and foot prints in them. Dustin grounded his club, which resulted in a two stroke penalty.

Instead of competing in the playoff with Watson and Kaymer, Johnson finished with a 73 and a total score of nine under par. Homie missed out on a major check and the chance to win his first major.

The rule was clear in stating that bunkers can be in and outside of the ropes. However, the rules did not specify that spectators were able to stand in bunkers. Once Johnson was removed and cut from the playoff, the championship lost a little of its luster.

After he showered and emerged from the locker room he gave an interview to reports.

Johnson was asked to describe how he felt after the ruling was handed down.

Dustin Johnson (R) of the U.S. talks with rules official David Price on the 18th green at the conclusion of regulation play during the final round of the 92nd PGA Golf Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin August 15, 2010. Johnson was given a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club on a shot on the hole.  REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF)

“I don’t know if I can describe the feeling, it never once crossed my mind that I was in a sand trap. The only worse thing that could have happened would have been if I had made that putt,” said Dustin.

The sticking point for many is that the PGA waited until after he made his final putt on 18 to tell him about the rules violation. Johnson had a chance to win the tourney with his first putt on 18 and did the PGA really want to deliver that type of news if he would have made the putt?

Johnson’s “violation” is one of the chief reasons the PGA struggles to catch on with regular sports fans. The rules are tough to understand and the sports still seems like it has a rod stuck up its butt. A crowd of people standing in a dust bowl is considered a bunker? News to us all.

Once that was dunzo Watson and Kaymer finished up the tournament. Kaymer won on the last playoff hole after Bubba put his second shot on 18 in the creek. After Kaymer hoisted the trophy and was named the 2010 winner (no rules violations were determined) Watson said that he “plays to win and doesn’t play to lay-up,” which is why he lost. But it’s also why so many people love him.

Great weekend of golf but also one of the most bizarre tournaments I’ve seen in awhile. Congratulations to Martin Kaymer for his win but shame on the PGA for its ghost ruling. Nice way to turn people away from the sport.

-JH

You can e-mail Jason at [email protected]


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7 Responses to “Controversy mars the 2010 PGA Championship”

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