[tweetmeme]With a nod to the phrase attributed to the manager of boxer Max Schmeling who clearly out-boxed Jack Sharkey in 1932 but lost the heavyweight title, was golfer Dustin Johnson robbed of chance to win the PGA Championship on Sunday on a course studded with more than 1,000 bunkers?
If you didn’t watch, Johnson was leading until the 18th hole, when he lost a shot but gained a chance for a 3-way playoff for the championship. Not to be. Officials told him that he had grounded his club in a bunker, which is not allowed. As the stunned TV commentators stated, the area certainly didn’t look like a bunker – it was tiny piece of earth trampled for four days by spectators. Instead of a chance for glory, Johnson was assessed a two-stroke penalty and finished fifth.
The Rules of Play clearly state that areas designed as bunkers will be inside as well as outside the ropes (where his ball landed) and signs were posted in the locker room, so Johnson, as he admitted, should have been more careful. However, the commentators didn’t mention, nor have I seen anything in the press (it’s late Sunday night) about blue dots defining the margin of a bunker “where necessary,” according to the Rules. Well, this forlorn patch of ground seemed deserving of the dots.
Here is the thing: should a PGA official have communicated to the golfer that he was in a bunker and not just on a scrap of land with no clearly defined boundaries? What about the rules of fair play? This was the opportunity of a lifetime for a young, and upcoming golfer. On the very last hole of the tournament, would telling him be bending the rules?
What do you think?