SOUTHHAMPTON, Bermuda – Mark Wilson, the PGA of America rules official who will be forever linked to the surreal finish at this year’s PGA Championship, was back making rulings in bunkers on Tuesday.
Wilson, who was the official who informed Dustin Johnson at Whistling Straits that he grounded his club in a hazard on the 72nd hole and would not join the playoff for the year’s final major, is the walking rules official at this week’s PGA Grand Slam of Golf and was pressed into service on the 11th hole when Graeme McDowell and David Toms hit their approach shots next to each other in a greenside bunker.
McDowell was allowed to mark his ball so Toms could play first and the Northern Irishman raised some eyebrows when he place his entire wedge into the hazard to measure his mark.
“(McDowell) wanted to get his ball completely out of Tom’s play and when he laid the club down that is considered necessary,” Wilson said. “I actually explained it to him. Some guys are scared to do it.”
McDowell ended up making a mess of the hole even without a penalty. He hit his next shot out of bounds, his fifth shot well short of the hole and two putted for a triple bogey-7.
“It was one of those days where one shot unravels your entire round,” said McDowell, who rallied for a 1-over 72 and is five shots behind Day 1 leader Toms. “I tried to hit a fancy bunker shot and clipped it OB.”
The only way the moment could have been more surreal is if Martin Kaymer, the man who won the PGA following Johnson’s monumental miscue, had been involved with the ruling. But that’s too strange even for the Bermuda triangle.