U.S. Open penalty confusion defused by Johnson win

Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:37pm EDT
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OAKMONT, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The final round of the U.S. Open was thrown into an almost farcical state of confusion on Sunday over a penalty controversy but Dustin Johnson made it a moot question by rolling to victory by three strokes.

U.S. Golf Association (USGA) officials raised the question at the 12th hole of whether leader Dustin Johnson would or would not be hit with a one-stroke penalty for making his ball move on the fifth green despite a ruling on site that he was not at fault.

With Johnson leading by just one stroke for much of the back nine, the state of the competition was an open question until Johnson stretched his lead to four strokes at the end, crowning his first major victory with a birdie at the 18th.

He later was docked a stroke over the controversial play on the fifth hole, and his official score was amended to 69 for a four-under total of 276, with Americans Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy and Irishman Shane Lowry equal second on one-under.

When the subject of the penalty was raised in an interview at the trophy ceremony, the crowd around the 18th green booed lustily.

"It’s something they said, 'We’re going to look at when you're done'," Johnson said about receiving the notice from a USGA official at the 12th hole.

"So I just tried to focus on what I was doing and not worry about the penalty stroke, and just playing golf from there to the house."

Johnson held firm, while his pursuers wobbled down the stretch and the long-hitting American capped off his first major championship victory with a brilliant approach shot that enabled him to post only the second birdie of the day at the 18th.

"It was a very nice way to finish. Maybe one of the best shots I ever hit, especially under the circumstance," he said about his six-iron approach. "I was very happy to see I had a little three-footer to finish."   Continued...

Jun 19, 2016; Oakmont, PA, USA; Dustin Johnson waves to the crowd after putting on the 13th green during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Oakmont Country Club. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports