Final-hole gaffe almost cost Johnson title


FORT WORTH, Texas – With shades of Roberto De Vicenzo – who famously lost the 1968 Masters because of a scorecard snafu and exclaimed “What a stupid I am.” – Zach Johnson announced himself into the Colonial press center on Sunday: “Zach Johnson, the ever stupid . . .”

Stupid, maybe, but unlike De Vicenzo, Johnson came away with the victory thanks to a three-shot cushion heading into the final hole. But that only made his gaffe on the 18th hole slightly easier to stomach.

Johnson’s troubles at the finishing hole began on the tee box when he hit out of turn, but they took a turn for the surreal when he failed to replace his ball mark on the closing green after moving it out of Jason Dufner’s line.

It wasn’t until Johnson had already began his victory celebration that his caddie Damon Green hugged him and quietly asked, “Did you put your mark back?” A PGA Tour official had told Green they were looking into it and Johnson confirmed he had not.

The ensuing two-stroke penalty gave Johnson a double-bogey-6 on the hole, thanks to a 4-footer he made that he thought was for par, and a one-stroke victory.

“Damon was raking the sand trap. I moved my mark. I did not move it back. I guess fortunately it went in. I don't know if I would have missed it,” said Johnson, who closed with a 72 for a 12-under total. “I feel very lucky, that's all. As I said earlier there is a number of adjectives that I am calling myself right now, and lucky would be the biggest one I can think of.”

Johnson said he’s never forgotten to replace his mark before and was thankful officials informed him of the infraction before he signed his scorecard, a violation that would have led to his disqualification.

For Dufner it was an eventful end to a dramatic few weeks that saw him win twice in three starts and move to eighth in the world golf ranking.

“’I asked him to move it. I tapped in for par and was just kind of getting out of his way,” Dufner said. “Sometimes guys say something about moving it back here and there. It's a courtesy that happens out here occasionally. But in that moment, to be honest with you, I wasn't thinking about him moving his coin back.”