Ground-rule trouble

Penalty costs Johnson

Kaymer wins in playoff

August 16, 2010|By Teddy Greenstein, Tribune newspapers

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — The 1968 Masters will be forever remembered for a clerical error by Roberto De Vicenzo, who signed for a wrong score and disqualified himself from a playoff with Bob Goalby.

"What a stupid I am," De Vicenzo said.

The indelible image of the 2010 PGA Championship? It came when Dustin Johnson, seated in the scorer's office, used the back end of a pencil to erase his "5" on No. 18.

Sorry, Martin Kaymer.

The 25-year-old German won his first major but will be a footnote to history, similar to when Jean Van de Velde handed the 1999 British Open to Paul Lawrie.

Asked if he felt something was stolen from him, Johnson replied: "Maybe a little bit. But, you know, that's how it goes."

Johnson incurred a two-shot penalty for grounding his club in a flat, sandy area well right of the 18th fairway. He did not realize it was a bunker, even though officials alerted players in their "Supplementary Rules of Play" sheet that all bunkers would be treated as hazards.

"It never crossed my mind that it was a sand trap," Johnson said. "I just thought it was a piece of dirt that the crowd trampled down."

During a long delay as rules officials sorted out the controversy, the gallery chanted: "Let him play!"

Kaymer and Bubba Watson, tied at 11 under after regulation, played on. They dueled in a three-hole playoff while Johnson retreated to the locker room, settling for a tie for fifth at 9 under.

After back-to-back birdies, Johnson stepped to the 18th tee with a one-shot lead. But he sprayed his tee shot a mile right, leaving 233 yards, and grounded his club before blasting a shot over the water hazard. He pitched to 7 feet but missed his par-saving attempt with a timid stroke.

As Johnson walked off the green, rules official David Price approached and said: "We've got an issue. I think you grounded your club in the bunker."

Johnson's reply: "What bunker?"

And to think, had Johnson made the putt, PGA of America officials would have had to metaphorically pry the Wanamaker Trophy from his hands.

With the sun setting, Watson took a one-shot lead on Kaymer with a 4-foot birdie on No. 10, the first playoff hole. Kaymer drew even by draining an 18-footer for birdie on the par-3 17th.

Both players drove into the right rough on No. 18. Watson had 206 yards to the front of the green, into the wind, and chose a 6-iron.

"I was hoping I would catch a flyer," he said, "but it came out dead. If I had to do it over again, I would hit it every day. I play to win a golf tournament. I don't play to lay up and hopefully make a par."

Watson's ball landed in a water hazard, and he pitched to a back bunker, all but conceding the title to Kaymer, who laid up to 173 yards after watching Watson's flub. Kaymer struck a near-perfect 7-iron and two-putted from 14 feet for a victorious bogey.

"It was a weird day," Watson said.

tgreenstein@tribune.com

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