Johnson wins despite USGA’s mishandle

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2016

If there were any distractions buzzing through Dustin Johnson’s head as he approached the No. 18 tee box Sunday at the U.S. Open, he certainly didn’t show it.

And if there was anybody who deserved to win this year’s second major at the devilishly difficult Oakmont Country Club course, it was him.

But it wasn’t without controversy.

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The United States Golf Association didn’t address a supposed movement of Johnson’s ball on the fifth green Sunday right away. Instead, the USGA kept their mouth shut about the ruling until after the tournament.

All the while, Johnson is trying to keep focused on winning the thing, a feat he came painfully close to exactly a year ago at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. Unsure whether he would be handed a one-stroke penalty or not, Johnson had to truck on.

In the background, pros who had already finished their rounds or were cut earlier in the week jumped on Twitter to voice their opinions.

“This is ridiculous… No penalty whatsoever for DJ. Let the guy play without this crap in his head. Amateur hour from USGA,” tweeted Rory McIlroy.

Jordan Spieth tagged on too, tweeting, “Lemme get this straight.. DJ doesn’t address it. It’s ruled that he didn’t cause it to move. Now you tell him he may have? Now? This a joke?”

My favorite comment came from Jack Nicklaus: “In my opinion, golf is a game of honor. That’s what the USGA believes in, and that’s what most of the players all believe in,” he said. “And when you have a situation where the official was there and said, ‘Did you cause it to move?’ and he says, ‘No,’ then that should be the end of the story. How’s he supposed to know what caused it to move? You’ve got greens out there with spike marks and pitches. The ball can move at any time.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Johnson was penalized the stroke, but it didn’t matter. His well-placed drive, beautiful approach shot and perfect read on the putt put him three strokes ahead of the competition. What could have been a huge distraction must’ve ignited a focus like none other.

The USGA even publicly apologized for handling the situation so poorly. Johnson deserved a clear, quick and fair ruling. He said his actions didn’t cause it to move. That should’ve been the end of the story there. None of this “after the round” stuff should even be allowed.

Refs don’t make a final ruling on a touchdown until after a football game, and then revoke the score, do they? Imagine if that would happen.