In the frenzied moments following Johnson’s now-well documented violation on the 72nd hole at last week’s PGA Championship, GolfChannel.com has learned that officials reviewed the taped footage for not one but two potential rules violations.
As the crowd surrounding Johnson’s golf ball, which had settled into one of Whistling Straits’ 1,200 or so bunkers, shifted to open a path to the green, shards of light began flickering across his lie. As the crowd shifted Johnson can be heard telling a spectator, “Either cover it up . . ., yeah block it (the sun).”
According to Rule 14-2 a player “may not place an object or position a person for the purpose of blocking the sunlight from his ball.” The decision, however, does allow for a player to ask a person who is already in position not to move, so that a shadow remains over the ball, or to move, so that his shadow is not over the ball.
“The ball came to rest in a complete shadow and when he reached his ball there were flickers of light and shadows, flickers of light and shadows,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s managing director for championships and business development. “The player, as the decision says, may ask a spectator not to move.
“We felt what he did was not a penalty situation, although the words that were used were not the best. But the intent was to stop the spectators from moving. That was certainly within a player's right and we were comfortable with that.”
Haigh said officials were made aware of the potential violation at the same time they learned of the possibility that Johnson had grounded his golf club, an infraction that ultimately led to a two-stroke penalty and cost him a spot in the playoff which was won by Martin Kaymer.