Monday, June 20, 2016

Why Dustin Johnson’s US Open Win Was Spoiled by the USGA’s Epic Rules Farce

[ed. Despite the controversy over The Putt, we can take comfort in Fox Sport's loving coverage of Paulina Gretzky's butt after the win.]

Let us briefly visit a land where common sense prevails. There, a significant sporting occasion would not be thrown into utter confusion in front of a worldwide audience at its key phase. There, a golf ball placed on a surface closely resembling a marble fireplace in texture may well move. There, the glaring evidence of no advantage either being sought or claimed would never result in a penalty.

Back in the real world of golf, a parallel universe sadly exists. Today we should be hailing Dustin Johnson’s major breakthrough. Arguably the most gifted American golfer of his time has finally offset years of underachievement, with the kind of victory he should have been accustomed to long ago. Instead, the shambles presided over by the United States Golf Association (USGA) for the second major of 2016 will dominate conversation. So it should, as other sports look on and laugh.

To the watching world the scene was ludicrous. To recap, a rules official informed Johnson that he would not be assessed for a penalty stroke after the ball moved when he addressed a putt on the 5th green. On the 12th tee, Johnson was told a decision would be made at the end of his round, forcing the player to complete the final six holes not knowing whether the assessment would take place or not. When the round was completed, Johnson was penalised a stroke and signed for a one-under-par 69, to win by three shots.

A sport seeking to emerge from dark age prejudice had once again taken an AK-47 to its foot, proving itself petty and unfathomable. Johnson arrived at the final holes of the biggest round of his life not knowing what his score was. Nobody watching on, including fellow competitors, knew for sure either.

It was akin to a cup final being halted with five minutes to go as officials tell the teams that the only goal of the match could, maybe, possibly be wiped out at full-time. Horse racing holds stewards enquiries, but not after the leading jockey has been informed three furlongs from home. Golf makes its return to the Olympics this summer; even the IOC would raise an eyebrow if a Johnson-esque saga were to be presided over by the USGA and its chums at the R&A. Suffice to say, it won’t be.

by Ewan Murray, The Guardian |  Read more:
Image: Christian Petersen / Getty Images