USGA keen to explain handling of Johnson penalty confusion

Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:20am EDT
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OAKMONT, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The United States Golf Association (USGA) defended its management of a penalty controversy with new champion Dustin Johnson in the final round of the U.S. Open on Sunday.

Johnson was penalized a stroke after the USGA deemed the player was responsible for making his ball move on the fifth green, even though a walking official with the American's group absolved the player of any wrongdoing.

When Johnson reached the 12th tee, Jeff Hall, USGA managing director of rules and competition, visited the 31-year-old to inform him that he could be assessed a penalty and that the matter would be discussed after the round.

"We were concerned about what we saw and felt obligated to have a conversation with Dustin about it, and the 12th tee presented the best opportunity to do that," Hall said.

"We had that conversation with Dustin. We told him that what we saw was a concern but we also asked him a couple of questions."

Hall asked Johnson if there was something else that could have caused the ball to move but the player was adamant he had not grounded his club and did not cause his ball to move.

However, Hall and his fellow committee members felt Johnson's putter was grounded near the ball as he took his practice swings.

"The grounding of the putter near the ball and the ball's immediate movement after the club had been grounded, we put Dustin on notice," Hall said.

"We just wanted him to realize that we were concerned and we wanted to make him aware of that so that he could strategically make decisions that he needed to make for the balance of the round."   Continued...

Jun 19, 2016; Oakmont, PA, USA; Dustin Johnson poses for a photo with the championship trophy after winning the U.S. Open golf tournament at Oakmont Country Club. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports