Rules violation knocks Johnson out of PGA playoff

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2010, 4:20 am

2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Dustin Johnson turned his pencil upside down and began erasing his scorecard.

He’d already given one major championship away. He never got a chance to finish this one.

Johnson was knocked out of the playoff at the PGA Championship on Sunday after he was penalized two strokes for grounding his club in a bunker he didn’t even realize existed. Instead of 71 to join Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson in the three-hole playoff, he changed his score from a 5 to a 7 and signed for a 73 to tie for fifth.

“I don’t know if I can describe it,” said Johnson, who showered quickly and was on his way to the parking lot before Kaymer and Watson finished their first hole. “If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have thought I was in a bunker. But it’s not up to me.”

It was the cruelest ruling at a major since Roberto de Vicenzo accidentally signed for a higher score at the 1968 Masters, and the victory went to Bob Goalby.

And it was yet another major heartbreak for Johnson.

The 26-year-old was the third-round leader at the U.S. Open, only to have a complete meltdown Sunday and shoot 82. It was the highest score in the U.S. Open by a 54-hole leader since Fred McLeod shot 83 at Chicago Golf Club in 1911. It was also Johnson’s worst score as a professional.

He insisted he wouldn’t let the collapse linger, and Pebble Beach seemed the furthest thing from his mind at Whistling Straits. When he curled in a 12-footer for birdie on the par-3 17th, he was the outright leader, less than a half-hour from redemption.

But his tee shot on 18 sailed into the gallery lining the right side of the fairway, landing in a small patch of sand that had been walked on, kicked and trampled by thousands of fans over the last week.

“Walking up and seeing the shot, never once did it cross my mind it was in a sand trap,” Johnson said. “I just thought it was on a piece of dirt the crowd had trampled down. Never thought it was a sand trap. I looked at it a lot, never once thought it was a bunker.”

Whistling Straits is designed to mimic an old-style links course, with more bunkers than you can count – literally. Anytime the grounds crew trims the fescue, another emerges. The PGA of America decided back in 2004 that every bunker is a hazard, no matter how many fans tromp through it, and players were reminded of it this week with a notice in the locker room.

Johnson never read it.

Neither, though, did many other players.

“Honestly, I don’t think anyone reads the sheets,” playing partner Nick Watney said. “I mean, we’ve played in hundreds of tournaments, we get a sheet every week.”

Unaware he was in a bunker, Johnson grounded his club before hitting toward the green. He missed a par putt that would have given him the victory, and immediately turned his attention to the playoff with Watson and Kaymer.

But as he and Watney walked off the green, he was approached by rules official David Price. There was a problem, Price told them, Johnson might have grounded his club in a bunker.

“What bunker?” was Johnson’s reaction.

Given the details, Johnson immediately said he had grounded his club.

“But I never thought it was in a bunker,” Johnson said.

Though he never disputed he’d grounded the club, Johnson and Watney spent several minutes in the scoring trailer with rules officials and watched replays of the shot.

Finally, he grabbed his pencil and changed the scorecard.

“I think I’m going to a playoff,” he said, “and I’ve got a two-stroke penalty.”

Johnson was composed when he spoke to the media in the clubhouse, never once blaming officials. Or even questioning them. He’d violated a rule, no matter if he didn’t realize it.

His lone consolation is that his finish earned him a spot on his first Ryder Cup team. But whenever he sees the Wanamaker Trophy from now, Johnson will know it could have – maybe should have – been his.

“Maybe a little bit,” Johnson said when someone suggested the title was “stolen” from him. “But that’s how it goes.”

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Woods admits fatigue played factor in Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:35 pm

There was plenty of speculation about Tiger Woods’ health in the wake of the U.S. team’s loss to Europe at last month’s Ryder Cup, and the 14-time major champ broke his silence on the matter during a driving range Q&A at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Woods, who went 0-4 in Paris, admitted he was tired because he wasn’t ready to play so much golf this season after coming back from a fourth back surgery.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

The topic of conversation then shifted to what's next, with Woods saying he's just starting to plan out his future schedule, outside of "The Match" with Phil Mickelson over Thanksgiving weekend and his Hero World Challenge in December.

“I’m still figuring that out,” Woods said. “Flying out here yesterday trying to look at the schedule, it’s the first time I’ve taken a look at it. I’ve been so focused on getting through the playoffs and the Ryder Cup that I just took a look at the schedule and saw how packed it is.”

While his exact schedule remains a bit of a mystery, one little event in April at Augusta National seemed to be on his mind already.

When asked which major he was most looking forward to next year, Woods didn't hesitate with his response, “Oh, that first one.”

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Podcast: Fujikawa aims to offer 'hope' by coming out

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 17, 2018, 12:03 pm

Tadd Fujikawa first made golf history with his age. Now he's doing it with his recent decision to openly discuss his sexuality.

Last month Fujikawa announced via Instagram that he is gay, becoming the first male professional to come out publicly. Now 27, he has a different perspective on life than he did when he became the youngest U.S. Open participant in 2006 at Winged Foot at age 15, or when he made the cut at the Sony Open a few months later.

Joining as the guest on the latest Golf Channel podcast, Fujikawa discussed with host Will Gray the reception to his recent announcement - as well as some of the motivating factors that led the former teen phenom to become somewhat of a pioneer in the world of men's professional golf.

"I just want to let people know that they're enough, and that they're good exactly as they are," Fujikawa said. "That they don't need to change who they are to fit society's mold. Especially in the golf world where it's so, it's not something that's very common."

The wide-ranging interview also touched on Fujikawa's adjustment to life on golf-centric St. Simons Island, Ga., as well as some of his hobbies outside the game. But he was also candid about the role that anxiety and depression surrounding his sexuality had on his early playing career, admitting that he considered walking away from the game "many, many times" and would have done so had it not been for the support of friends and family.

While professional golf remains a priority, Fujikawa is also embracing the newfound opportunity to help others in a similar position.

"Hearing other stories, other athletes, other celebrities, my friends. Just seeing other people come out gave me a lot of hope in times when I didn't feel like there was a lot of hope," he said. "For me personally, it was something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and something I'm very passionate about. I really want to help other people who are struggling with that similar issue. And if I can change lives, that's really my goal."

For more from Fujikawa, click below or click here to download the podcast and subscribe to future episodes:

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Davies takes 2-shot lead into final round of Senior LPGA

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 2:00 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies recovered from a pair of early bogeys Tuesday for a 2-under 70 that gave her a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Senior LPGA Championship as she goes for a second senior major.

In slightly warmer weather on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, the 55-year-old Davies played bogey-free over the last 11 holes and was at 6-under 138. Brandi Burton had a 66, the best score of the tournament, and was two shots behind.

Silvia Cavalleri (69) and Jane Crafter (71) were three shots behind at 141.

Juli Inkster, who was one shot behind Davies starting the second round, shot 80 to fall 11 shots behind.

''I had a couple of bogeys early on, but I didn't panic,'' Davies said. ''I'm playing with a bit of confidence now and that's good to have going into the final round.''

Davies already won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open this summer at Chicago Golf Club.

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Miller's biggest on-air regret: Leonard at Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:00 am

Johnny Miller made a broadcasting career out of being brutally honest, calling golf tournaments exactly like he saw them.

His unfiltered style is what kept him on the air for nearly 30 years, but it wasn't always the most popular with players.

After announcing his upcoming retirement, Miller was asked Tuesday if there were any on-air comments he regretted over the last three decades. One immediately came to mind.

"I think that I didn't say the right words about Justin Leonard at Miracle at Brookline about he should be home watching it on TV. I meant really - I did say he should be home, but I meant the motel room. Even then I probably shouldn't have said that," Miller recalled. "I want so much for the outcome that I'm hoping for that I actually get overwhelmed with what I want to see. Almost the kind of things you would say to your buddies if you were watching it on TV, you know? He just couldn't win a match."

After struggling on Friday and Saturday in team play, Leonard ended up the U.S. hero after halving his Sunday singles match with José María Olazábal by holing a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole - one of the most famous shots in Ryder Cup history.

"Of course he ended up - after the crappy comment I made that motivated maybe the team supposedly in the locker room, and he ends up making that 45-, 50- foot putt to seal the deal," Miller said. "Almost like a Hollywood movie or something."

Not only did the putt seal the comeback for the U.S., but it also earned Leonard an apology from Miller. 

"I apologized to him literally the next day; I happened to see him. I tried to make a policy when I go over the line that I get ahold of the guy within 24 hours and tell him I made a double bogey, you know. That's just the way I have done it through the years."