By Jay Betsill
In spite of a looming possible one-stroke penalty hanging over his head since the fifth hole, Dustin Johnson powered his way around the difficult Oakmont Country Club golf course to capture his first major championship at the 116th U.S. Open.
While confusion reigned during the second half of the final round of the U.S. Open, as the USGA seemingly couldn’t get out of its own way in trying to explain things under the new Rule 18-2, which states that a player will be penalized if the facts show the player caused the ball to move.
At the time of the “infraction,’ Johnson trailed leader Shane Lowry by two strokes, but even after USGA officials told him on No. 12 that he “might” be accessed a one stroke penalty and they would look at it after the round, Johnson continued to pipe his drives and make enough putts to stay atop as others in the field fell pray to the course known as the “Oakmonster.”
While FOX Sports golf analysts Paul Azinger and Brad Faxon did their best to not rip the USGA for its handling of the situation, some of the biggest names in golf sounded off on social media.
Rory McIlroy tweeted: “This is ridiculous… No penalty whatsoever for DJ. Let the guy play without this crap in his head. Amateur hour from @USGA”
Jordan Spieth tweeted three minutes later: “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?”
McIlroy continued to tweet and at 6:24, he said this: “This isn’t right for anyone on that golf course. If it was me I wouldn’t hit another shot until this farce was rectified.”
Fortunately for the USGA, Johnson separated himself from the field so that this mystery one stroke penalty that may or may not be given at the end of his round did not effect the outcome.
The USGA did indeed give Johnson the one stroke penalty after his round, making his winning total 4-under.
“I just tried to focus on what I was doing, not worrying about a penalty stroke. Just playing golf from there to the house,”Johnson told FOX’s Joe Buck at his victory ceremony.
While he did not play this week as he continues to recover from injury, Tiger Woods tweeted this after the event: “Some great golf by @DJohnsonPGA all week, strong way to finish overcoming that rules farce. Happy Father’s Day to DJ and all of you.”
Jim Furyk, Shane Lowry and Scott Piercy tied for second place at 1-under.
Full U.S. Open leaderboard is here
Next up on the PGA Tour is the Quicken Loans National at the prestigious Congressional Country Club. Notables in the field include Rickie Fowler, Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Vijay Singh and defending champion Troy Merritt.