Yahoo! Sports announced Dustin Johnson was the victorious champion for the U.S. Open because he won despite the controversial penalty he received at the conclusion of the tournament. The U.S. Open was held from June 16 to June 19, 2016, at the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. ABC News reported that during Johnson’s final round at the U.S. Open he was plagued by doubt since he was uncertain if he was going to complete the competition one stroke higher than he finished.
According to the USGA, in 2016, there was a new rule added; 18-2b. This rule change permits the review of a play when a ball moves. The rule change is that a player no longer receives a stroke when their ball moves without their interference. During the U.S. Open, Lee Westwood played alongside Johnson and claimed he was able to see Johnson did not cause the ball to move.
First, there was a lack of a call, which was followed by an extremely late call. This led to the fact that the golf officials searching through the rulebook and Johnson had to continue playing without knowing if he lost a stroke. Another problem was the play in question occurred on the 5th hole, however, the officials were not certain if the play deserved to be reviewed until the 12th hole. Officials opted to give Johnson the one-stroke penalty after he finished the 18th hole. The penalty was considered controversial, because of the delay in implementing the stroke to Johnson’s score.
The USGA acknowledged, not only how the distraction bothered Johnson because he had to wait for the officials to decide to implement the penalty, but how this situation could have damaged the integrity of the U.S. Open as a whole. After the officials decided to implement the penalty, Johnson’s final score was amended. In reality, the controversial penalty could have interfered with the result of the U.S. Open, but Johnson won despite the distraction. It is well-known that golf is played against oneself because the other players in the round do not interfere with the performance of their competition. This can be compared to other sports which allow players to fill offensive and defensive roles.
The question is, why did the officials wait so long to act? There was a review of the play by officials. This raised enough doubt that officials needed to determine proper action. Once this happened, the penalty should have been implemented. ESPN claims, Oakmont is one of the toughest golf courses in America, and the doubt created by the indecisiveness of the officials was unsettling.
It has been argued that not only did Johnson succeed, he was able to redirect the tension in order to recover from his error during the U.S. Open. Johnson stated he felt confident going into the tournament and his statistics supported this belief. Johnson was No. 1 for driving distance, at 316 yards, and greens in regulation with 55 out of 72. Johnson is also tied for No. 18 in driver accuracy hitting 36 of 56 fairways.
In the opening round of the U.S. Open, Johnson was the only player without a bogey shooting 67. This can be compared to the final round of the U.S. Open when he made two bogeys on Sunday, June 19. Spectators claimed the controversial penalty was a possible distraction for Johnson but may have been a distraction to the other players in the round.
Johnson won the U.S. Open despite the controversial penalty and became the champion. The officials of the U.S. Open understand they could have damaged the integrity of the championship. It has been argued the USGA will work to ensure this issue does not happen again in the future.
By Kristina Lasher
Edited by Jeanette Smith
ESPN: Quick 9: Assessing Dustin Johnson’s week at the U.S. Open
ABC News: Dustin Johnson’s US Open Win: Right Penalty, Wrong Delivery
Yahoo! Sports: U.S. Open penalty confusion defused by Johnson win
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