The American Dustin Johnson won the US Open with a final-round 69 on a day shrouded in controversy over a potential rules violation on the 5th green
Dustin Johnson can barely have imagined the claiming of his maiden major championship would arrive with such a swell of neutral support. Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and thousands of Oakmont fans were vocal in their delight after Johnson recovered from a sensational rules controversy to end his drought.
McIlroy and Spieth had been fierce in their criticism of the United States Golf Association amid the furore which completely upstaged Sunday in Pennsylvania. Take that, USGA, tweeted McIlroy as Johnson played a magnificent iron into the 18th green to seal victory. Any upcoming penalty for an earlier infraction was suddenly irrelevant. Just when it seemed another title would be snatched from Johnsons grasp, he held firm.
The future reference point to this event will be the USGAs treatment of Johnson and fellow competitors. High farce and high confusion? You bet, with Johnsons role in it even more noteworthy given the rules infringement which cost him the 2010 US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
Johnson, who was in pole position to claim his first major title, immediately called a rules official on the 5th green as his ball appeared to move. Johnson would be liable for a penalty, were he deemed to have caused the ball position to change. The golfer was adamant that did not happen, as was his playing partner, Lee Westwood.
While the official seemed content there was no case to answer, Johnson was approached on the 12th tee when leading the tournament. A rules official at that juncture told the 31-year-old that the incident would be reassessed when Johnson completed his round, much to widespread consternation. As Johnson holed out for a birdie on the last, thereby holding a four-shot lead, he knew even the rules could not defeat him this time.
Ernie Els branded the USGAs treatment of Johnson as absolutely shocking. Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley and Luke Donald also took to social media to express their dismay with the way this major was concluding. McIlroy had cited amateur hour, with Spieth labelling the scenes a joke.
Shane Lowry was not laughing, the Irishman losing a four-shot lead during a wounding afternoon. Lowry ultimately joined Scott Piercy, Sergio Garca again and Branden Grace in falling marginally short.
Before the Johnson chaos unfolded, the biggest surprise of the 116th US Open was Spieths failure to break 70. His closing round of 75 meant an aggregate of plus nine. For the first time in six majors Spieth did not claim at least a top-five finish. The Texans thoughts will immediately turn towards next months Open Championship.
The story of my week was just playing the easy holes poorly, Spieth said. The 2nd, 11th and 14th, to play it whatever I played them, seven or eight over, on those holes the leaders are playing them under par.
The funny thing is I felt like I didnt have my game this week but if I play the easy holes at even par, Im still top five. Thats whats tough to swallow leaving this week. You do all this work on this course, and it was the easy little iron then wedge holes that tore me apart.
Im going home for a week and then Ill look forward to the World Golf Championship in Akron to try to gain some momentum for the next couple of majors.
Danny Willett signed off with a 71, also for a nine-over-par total, before confirming that the putter he smashed into a bridge when walking to his closing hole of round three was the one which helped him win the Masters. Willetts temper had got the better of him, to the extent where said club will now be retired.
Unfortunately, its now in two pieces, said Willett of the putter. Well have to get it refurbished and then I wont be using it again. There was a lot more than one club, I would say, that helped win the Masters.
This was a week that could have been pretty good. I think we had 33, 35 and 33 putts the first three days. Its not really going to put you anywhere near contention with that amount of putts on this golf course.