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After Further Review: USGA may have lost the players

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Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds. 

On player reaction to USGA's handling of Dustin Johnson's penalty ...

By so badly botching the Dustin Johnson ruling in a critical moment Sunday, the USGA has lost the respect of the players, perhaps for good.

A rough few years for the organization – the anchoring ban, an unnecessarily compromised Merion, a bumpy Chambers Bay – has now gotten even worse.

This wasn’t a few grumpy players sounding off on the USGA’s handling and enforcement of Rule 18-2/0.5; it seemed like the entire PGA Tour emphatically disagreed with how it all went down. Here were a few of the words the stars used to describe the USGA’s absurd ruling: farce, ridiculous, embarrassing.

It has never sat well with the players that an organization of amateurs is policing the professionals, but this may prove to be the final straw. They’ve largely held their tongue over the past few years. Don’t expect them to stay silent any longer. – Ryan Lavner

On DJ's major potential ...

Following his victory this year at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Adam Scott completed an interview with Claude Harmon III, who was moonlighting as a television announcer.  The conversation turned to Dustin Johnson, who Harmon coaches with his father, Butch. “He said, ‘Once he gets it figured out, we’re all playing for second,’” Harmon recently recalled.

On Sunday at Oakmont Johnson figured it out, overcoming a surreal episode that included a penalty that might not have been a penalty, an increasingly difficult golf course and the demons born from so many major losses.

Three days shy of his 32nd birthday, the man some thought couldn’t win a major suddenly looks like he could win any of them.  Rex Hoggard

On the DJ penalty controversy ...

I tweeted this shortly after the U.S. Open ended and it was retweeted and favorited quite a bit, and it’s something I truly believe. No one watching the U.S. Open rule debacle will say: “Hey, that looked cool. I want to wake up tomorrow, buy clubs and take up the game.”

I’m not a rules expert, never have been and never have professed to be. Let’s say the USGA got this one exactly right. Then why was there no one, and I mean no one, who agreed with anything they did in the waning hours of the Open? A group of the game’s biggest names – including Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods, among other – vented openly on social media about the USGA’s ineptness. They don’t agree on much of anything but were unanimous on this issue.

The rules forever have been too difficult and too vague. When an explanation comes that a ruling is made because “it’s more likely than not” that it happened, I get infuriated.

People may think golf’s cool because DJ is cool. But will never think it’s cool because of anything that has to do with arcane rules.  Jay Coffin

On two big USGA mistakes ...

The USGA’s first big mistake in the Dustin Johnson rules fiasco Sunday at the U.S. Open was reviewing the video and failing to immediately clear him of any rules violation after his ball moved once he stepped over it to putt at the fifth hole. Rule 18-2 as revised doesn’t require the rules committee to be 100 percent certain a player caused a ball to move to assess a one-stroke penalty.

Instead, the committee merely needs “the weight of evidence” to indicate the player caused the ball to move. With Lee Westwood and a referee at the hole failing to see cause to assess a penalty, it ought to take indisputable video evidence to conclude a penalty incurred, not “weighted evidence.”

The USGA’s second big mistake was going to Johnson at the 12th tee to inform him there was a potential violation and that they would further review it after the round. If Johnson was going to be assessed a penalty – and he was at the end of the round – it should have been decided right there.

By waiting, the USGA unnecessarily brought down a fog of confusion and angst  over the entire finish.  Randall Mell