With the possibility of a one-stroke penalty looming over Dustin Johnson’s head, he zeroed in his second shot from the 18th fairway. Knowing that an errant shot could wreak havoc on his chances to win the U.S. Open, Johnson stood over the ball after his pre-shot routine, readying the strike that could finally lift him to his first major championship.
Then something beeped behind him.
Johnson shot a glare towards someone behind the cameraman and took a step away from the ball, only to re-address it and hit a laser that would land him in a spot for an easy birdie. As Johnson was approaching the 18th green some remembered last year’s disastrous finish at Chambers Bay. Johnson quickly put their mind’s to rest sinking the putt.
Johnson has etched his name into PGA Tour history after winning a long-awaited major championship, all the while having the USGA breathe down his neck about him maybe/maybe not moving his ball as he addressed a putt on the fifth green. An official saw the incident happen on the fifth green and took Johnson at his word when he said he didn’t move it. Later on in the round, Johnson was notified with six holes left to play that the USGA was investigating it further and that he may be assessed a penalty after the round when he and an official would have a chance to take a look at it.
Many players took to Twitter to express how they felt about the USGA’s decision to notify Johnson mid-round.
This is ridiculous… No penalty whatsoever for DJ. Let the guy play without this crap in his head. Amateur hour from @USGA
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) June 19, 2016
No way DJ gets a penalty. Use some common sense @usga The greens are running 14 and are sloppier than Mount Everest
— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) June 19, 2016
Some even had a little fun at the USGA’s expense.
Starting to think I may have a chance of a playoff at +8 if these rulings keep up #stayingpositive
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) June 19, 2016
The issue with the USGA’s decision to notify Johnson about the potential penalty was that it could have tampered with Johnson’s mentality the rest of the round, especially after Shane Lowry wiggled his way back to a tie with Johnson at four-under as Lowry started the 13th hole and Johnson started the 14th.
Lowry couldn’t make anything come of the penalty, bogeying the 14th, 15th, and 16th holes, finishing the round at six-over and the event, tied for second with Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy at one-under par.
Next week, the PGA Tour heads to Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland for the Quicken Loans National, but until then #staypositive.