MIAMI, (Reuters) - Dustin Johnson holds bitter memories of Whistling Straits and has promised to avoid a repeat of his blunder five years ago when he returns to the shores of Lake Michigan for the U.S. PGA Championship in August.
The 30-year-old American won the elite WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral on Sunday, his first victory since taking a six-month break from golf to seek help for “personal challenges”, to climb to seventh in the world rankings.
Johnson’s triumph has given him the belief he can go on to secure a breakthrough first major title, after unluckily losing out to eventual winner Martin Kaymer of Germany at the 2010 U.S. PGA Championship.
“I played well five years ago at Whistling Straits but I won’t be grounding my club anywhere I shouldn’t be grounding it,” he told reporters in Miami.
The Wisconsin venue has more than 1,000 bunkers, several of which would normally be deemed ‘waste areas’ where a player can ground his club, but a local championship rule states that all sand areas should be played as hazards.
Johnson was leading by one shot at the U.S. PGA when he was handed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a waste area at the 72nd hole.
“Standing there over my second shot at 18 on that Sunday I didn’t think I was standing in a sand trap,” he said.
“There was just so much spectator rubbish in that bunker like candy wrappers, a Gatorade bottle, beer cans and all kinds of stuff including plenty of foot prints.
“Generally on a tournament golf course people should not be standing in a sand trap but then I just happened to miss the memo that said all sand was deemed as a bunker,” added Johnson.
Editing by Tony Jimenez