The 1001st Bunker Does Dustin Johnson In At Whistling Straits


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , , | Posted on Sunday, August 15, 2010

Are you kidding me!?!? Seems like I am beginning a lot of post like this lately. This time I am in disbelief over the outcome of the 2010 final round of the PGA Championship. Dustin Johnson stepped up to the 18th tee with a one shot lead over Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer. All Johnson had to do was par the hole and he would win his first major championship.

Simple enough. Unfortunately, this was the final round of the final major of the season, at one of the hardest courses known to man, and it happens to be littered with bunkers of varying shapes and sizes. One of these "bunkers" proved to be Johnson's undoing.

Johnson hit his tee shot into what seemed to be a trampled dirt patch. As he got to his ball there were people standing in the sandy earth surrounding Johnson errant ball. He was left with over 230 yards to the hole. A tough shot from the fairway. Even tougher from this precarious lie.

Johnson weighed his options and chose to go for the green. He went through his normal pre-shot routine which includes grounding his club and struck the ball. He overshot the green and found himself behind a mound. Now he was playing for bogey to join Watson and Kaymer in a playoff. Johnson got up and down and he was heading to the playoff. Or so he thought.

As he was leaving the green Johnson was approached by a rules official who explained that they were checking to see if he had grounded his club in a bunker. What! A bunker? What bunker? Apparently, that sandy patch that he had hit his second shot from qualified as a bunker. Pete Dye strikes again.

I heard a quote from Dye, the legendary course architect. He said, " isn't a fair game, so why should I build fair golf course." Nothing is truer when having to face "Bunker Straits". There was nothing fair about what happened to Johnson. I was upset the ruling at first, but after hearing the explanation, I completely understand. It still stinks, but I understand.

This is the Local Rule that the PGA of America Rules Committee made available to each of the competitors before play began at Whistling Straits:

Bunkers: All areas of the course that were designed and built as sand bunkers will be played as bunkers (hazards), whether or not they have been raked. This will mean that many bunkers positioned outside of the ropes, as well as some areas of bunkers inside the ropes, close to the rope line, will likely include numerous footprints, heel prints and tire tracks during the play of the Championship. Such irregularities of surface are a part of the game and no free relief will be available from these conditions.

It will be a tough pill for Johnson to swallow, but he showed maturity and poise as he was bombarded with questions about his thoughts on the ruling. Many people questioned whether or not he would be able to bounce back after his collapse at the U.S. Open. He proved he could by being in contention this week, even though the focus of the tournament had been on the race to be the number one player.

Johnson will undoubtedly be in this position again. He has the game to become a superstar. He is crazy long off the tee and has really soft hands around the greens and he has putted very well this season. The day belonged to Kaymer. The story belonged to Johnson. But the victory goes to Pete Dye and his many many bunkers. They definitely stole the show. Have a good round and always hit your target.

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