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Sympatico Column: Johnson's bunker meltdown bad for golf

My latest Sympatico column is now online. Interestingly, when I went to Carnoustie in 2003, people were still having their pictures taken standing in the creek Jean Van De Velde waded into without his socks. Wonder if Johnson’s bunker will have the same mystique?

 Check it out here, and here’s the teaser:

It is the most discussed fumble in a major championship since Jean took off his socks and waded into the burn at Carnoustie and is an example of all that is good and bad about the sometimes confounding game of golf.

On Sunday American Dustin Johnson found himself on the 18th hole at Whistling Straits with a good chance at winning the PGA Championship. Needing a par to take the title outright, he hit a wild tee shot that ended up high into a throng of spectators right of the fairway. After locating the ball sitting pretty on a patch of hard-pan dirt, Johnson hit it short of the green, chipped on and failed to get up and down. Instead of winning, he thought he was headed for a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.

At least that’s how it appeared. Instead a rules official told Johnson the packed sand where spectators were standing only moments before was actually one of almost 1,000 bunkers on the course. Johnson was told he’d grounded his club in the hazard, was given a two-stroke penalty and found himself sitting on the sidelines while Kaymer beat Watson in a three-hole playoff. He’d finish in third place.
Johnson’s mishap has led to a repeat of Jean Van De Velde’s disaster at Carnoustie during the British Open in 1999. Like Van De Velde’s meltdown overshadowed Paul Lawrie’s win, hardly anyone is discussing Kaymer’s fine play en route to his victory. All that’s being discussed is Johnson’s rules debacle.

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Jeff Lancaster

Jeff Lancaster is the Publisher of CanadianGolfer.com.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I read your article and I don’t share your thoughts that the sport of golf has been damaged by this event. Golf is a sport that millions participate in and will continue to enjoy. Golf Tours, golf tournaments and equipment makers could suffer but those are golf businesses. They are not the sport of golf.

  • Dustin knew the rules just as every other player…I can’t find the similarities between Van de Velde’s meltdown and Johnson’s mistake. Van de Veldes was a wild ride that showed just how vulnerable we can be to our emotions, and it was great entertainment. Johnson’s mistake to me as the viewer was rather boring in comparison. In golf, rules are rules.

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  • It’s not bad for golf… it defines golf … and the players.
    It also defined Whistling Straits as chaos on steroids and far removed from classic playability of links-style golf.

  • Not sure if your head is again up your ass or not. Dustin like all Tour player has likely played in hundreds if not thousand of tournaments in his career. He should have known the rules, and he should have checked with an official, if he wasn’t sure. You should know that, but as with most of your writing that I follow, you have your head up your ass, again.

  • All those bunkers on the Whistling Straits golf course is ridulious. I blame Dye, how could you tell that was a bunker or just plain open sand. Maybe Johnson should have known, but in the heat of battle, with people shoulder to shoulder in the “bunker?” it wasn’t apparent, that’s for darn sure. Yeah, and the officials should have been of some assistance as well.
    You don’t see people standing in the bunkers at Augusta, or at St Andrews.

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