I thought it was only appropriate to have my first post be right after the US Open @ Pebble Beach. Watching the first couple of holes, you could tell that this was going to be a good old fashion Sunday afternoon at the US Open. Each player just holding on for dear life.
Within four holes, Dustin Johnson went from -6 to E and even though he wasn’t completely out of the tournament at that point, you knew that he was going to be done for the day. Could you imagine what he was going through his head after hitting his tee shot on four just a tad right and watching it roll over the edge and into the hazard. Where did it all go wrong?
Ill tell ya and it wasn’t his triple bogey on the 2nd hole, it was the 3rd hole that sent him over the edge. Once his 5 minutes were up after searching for his ball after his 3rd hole tee shot that wound up 40-50 yards left of his target and in a hazard that I’m fairly certain he had no idea it was even there. Because it was so far off line, no one was 100% convinced or had literally seen the ball go into the hazard. USGA rules book states that with a water hazard, “A player is only able to take relief under the Water Hazard Rule when it is “known or virtually certain” that the ball is in the hazard.” In Johnson’s case it was not known or virtually certain to be in the hazard at the end of the five-minute search when his ball became lost. To add fuel to that fire, someone found the ball some 15 seconds after the 5minutes were up. The five minutes start the moment both player and caddy begin searching for the ball. Because the 5 minutes were up, he had to deem the golf ball lost and return to the tee box to re-hit the shot.
This exact same thing happened to me at an AJGA event when I was 16 down in California and it is one of the most deflating things that has ever happened to me on the course. I didn’t hit it into a hazard, however, I hit it into some extremely long rough, just off the fairway and couldn’t find the ball in the allotted time. Once the rules official told me my 5 minutes were up, I headed back to the tee and literally, my next step back towards the tee, I stepped on my ball. I pleaded with the official that I found it before the time was up, but he wasn’t having any of it and sent me back to the tee. At the time, it was the toughest ruling that I had ever experienced on the golf course. If Dustin had found that ball in the allotted time, I believe his round could’ve been saved. He would’ve been able to drop by the hazard and have a short iron into the hole and only hitting his 3rd shot where par or at worst bogey comes into play, instead he had to return back to the tee and essentially birdie the hole from there just to salvage bogey. Not easy to do and my best guess is that the frustration of not finding the ball in time carried over to his 4th hole tee shot and the rest is history
On the brighter side of things, I thought it was great to see Graeme McDowell win the event. At about hole 8 I said to myself and my roommate that if it comes down to who is the best grinder, McDowell will win. Wind and hard conditions are what he grew up on in Portrush, NIR and it shows in his game. Nothing specific about his game is overtly impressive, however, his ability to get around the golf course in cleanest.