Sudden Death

Dustin Johnson lost a golf tournament on Sunday before he put a peg in the ground for the playoff.

Johnson, who threw away a U.S. Open Championship in June, grounded his club in alleged bunker late Sunday afternoon in the PGA Championship on the 18th hole. Making a disappointing bogey on the final hole, Johnson walked off the 18th green and met trouble before his playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson. A rules official informed Johnson that he grounded his club in the bunker. His bogey turned into a triple bogey and tarnished the best final round of a major that I’ve ever seen.

By the book, the decision to penalize Johnson was correct. His did ground his golf club in a bunker. That’s a no-no. Golfers with handicaps as high as 36 know this.

The funny thing is, Johnson didn’t think it was a bunker.

“It never once crossed my mind that I was in the sand trap,” Johnson said at the same time the playoff continued without him.

A rules official claimed that the players were informed that there are numerous bunkers on the golf course and a notation was posted in the locker room. Trouble is, those sheets are kind of like the fine print on a scratch-off ticket. Nobody reads these.

“Honestly, I don’t think anyone reads a sheet. We get a different sheet each week,” Johnson’s playing partner Nick Watney said after his emotionally draining 81 on Sunday.

Johnson actually stood at the 18th tee with a 1-shot lead. The pressure he felt while waiting for Rory McIlroy to take his time in the fairway on 18 helped Johnson find the mystery bunker off the tee. Johnson’s shot out of the bunker was awful, landing in the rough with little green to work with. But on this fascinating Sunday, nothing was impossible. Johnson created a beautiful third shot, only to miss the par putt and settle for a bogey. Er, triple.

For the record, Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson in a 3-hole playoff on Sunday evening. Not many will remember Kaymer’s name. Everyone will remember the guy who marks his golf ball with a flat line.

Johnson will win at least one major in his career. It just wasn’t this week in Wisconsin.

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