The social outcry surrounding Dustin Johnson’s 2016 U.S. Open penalty

Golf Digest senior writer Jamie Diaz reviews the controversial 2016 U.S. Open ruling and how Dustin Johnson overcame it to earn his first major win.

Released on 6/8/2017

Transcript

00:00
(dynamic, orchestral music)
00:03
[Presenter] The final round of the 2016 US Open
00:06
came to be defined by a moment at the fifth hole
00:08
at Oakmont Country Club as Dustin Johnson
00:11
settled over a short putt for par.
00:14
(dynamic, orchestral music)
00:20
Just as he's getting ready to ground his putter
00:22
behind the ball, he pulls away
00:25
and tells his playing partner, Lee Westwood,
00:27
that the ball has moved.
00:30
[Presenter] That question was whether Dustin Johnson
00:32
caused his ball to move,
00:33
which would be grounds for a penalty.
00:36
Johnson said he hadn't, so play continued.
00:40
Seven holes later, the issue resurfaced.
00:44
So by the time DJ gets to the twelfth tee,
00:47
the USGA has had video evidence brought to their attention
00:50
and they've determined it was more likely than not,
00:53
that Dustin Johnson caused the ball to move.
00:55
So now they go to the twelfth tee
00:58
and inform him that,
00:59
We're looking at what you did on the fifth green.
01:02
However, they don't tell him that he's been penalized.
01:05
In his mind, he was confident, he said,
01:07
that he had not caused the ball to move
01:09
and whatever review that was gonna happen,
01:11
he was gonna be confident he was gonna win the case.
01:14
However, the USGA in fact had already kind of decided,
01:18
that he'd broken the rule
01:20
and they just hadn't pulled the trigger on telling him,
01:23
which in retrospect was a big mistake.
01:25
It does hurt the sport, in comparison with others,
01:27
where you know, you kind of play on,
01:29
and you live with imperfection,
01:32
golf tries to get it perfect.
01:33
It's already the smallest target, the smallest ball,
01:35
the smallest sweet spot, everything's small in golf
01:38
and the violations are small too
01:40
and people have a hard time with that.
01:42
I think one of the most distinctive things,
01:43
that occurred on Sunday at Oakmont
01:46
was the level and also the qualifications
01:50
of the critics on social media.
01:51
The greatest players in the world,
01:52
from Jack Nicklaus on down, Jordan Spieth,
01:54
everybody felt like they had to chime in
01:56
and say, This is wrong, you know,
01:58
The USGA is mishandling this
02:00
and this is unfair to Dustin Johnson,
02:02
and it, I think, raised an amount of momentum
02:06
for what eventually happened,
02:07
which is that the USGA responded very quickly
02:09
and changed the rule.
02:11
[Presenter] As messy as it was, Dustin Johnson's win
02:13
in the 2016 US Open confirmed his place
02:17
not only as one of the most talented players in golf,
02:20
but also as one of the most resilient.
02:22
(dynamic, orchestral music)
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