Bunker ruling costs Johnson victory

2013 08 Johnson

Two-shot penalty rules American out of US PGA play-off


Martin Kaymer may have walked away from Whistling Straits with the Wannamaker Trophy at the weekend, but the 92nd PGA Championship will forever be remembered for the controversy that saw Dustin Johnson miss out on a play-off place.

One shot ahead at the final hole and playing in the final group, Johnson just needed to make par to secure his maiden major championship.

However, the 26-year-old found the crowd down the right with his tee shot, qhich set in motion a devastating run of events for Johnson.

Grounding his club as he addressed his second shot on a patch of trampled sand, the American was oblivious to the fact he had found one of the Wisconsin course's 1,200 bunkers, many of which are little more than sections of sandy wasteground.

His second shot fired through the green before he chipped back to six feet before missing a putt for a title, which, in retrospect, the American was thankful he did not hole.

As he made his way from the green and prepared himself for a play-off with Kaymer and compatriot Bubba Watson, Johnson was approached by a rules official who informed him of his rule break, an illegal grounding of a club in a bunker - incurring a two-stroke penalty.

"It never crossed my mind I was in a sand trap," said Johnson, who dropped back to nine-under-par and a share of fifth place. "The only worse thing that could have happened is if I had made that putt on the final hole.

"I just thought I was on a piece of dirt where the crowd had trampled it down."

However, a PGA of America spokesman subsequently revealed that the first on a list of local rules explained to players that all sand on the course was to be considered a bunker, a rule they even highlighted on a notice in the players' locker room.

The blunder cost Johnson dearly, as Watson and Kaymer went head-to-head in the play-off, with the German emerging victorious.

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