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Dustin Johnson, This Is Not ‘Nam – This Is Golf, There Are Rules

Man, I wish I knew how to use Photoshop

“Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it seven!”

Rules officials did their best Walter Sobchak impression on Sunday at Whistling Straits by taking a hard-line stance regarding Dustin Johnson grounding his club in a so-called bunker, assessing him a two-stroke penalty on the 18th hole and effectively ripping the Wanamaker Trophy right out of his hands due to adhering to only the strictest interpretation of a questionable course rule.

The warning, printed on a notice which was apparently posted all over the course, as well as the locker rooms and, according to rules officials, everywhere they could post a damn sign:

“All areas of the course that were designed and built as sand bunkers will be played as bunkers (hazards), whether or not they have been raked. This will mean that many bunkers positioned outside the ropes, as well as some areas of bunkers inside the ropes, close to the rope line, will likely include numerous footprints, heel prints and tire tracks during play of the championship. Such irregularities of surface are part of the game and no free relief will be available from these conditions.”

While many are crying foul over the royal screw job Johnson was subjected to on what could have been a triumphant Sunday afternoon for the golfer, others are not so willing to give the golfer a free pass. CBS Sports Senior Writer Steve Elling is the member of the latter group.

Via CBS Sports:

Hard lesson learned.

So, save the bombast, please. Sure, Whistling Straits is a bizarre, man-made amalgamation of sand and rump-high hay, and stands as tribute to what man can do with an unlimited design budget and an army of bulldozers. The deconstructed, wild bunkers are part of the charm. In an attempt to simplify the confusion over which sandy portions are bunkers and which are waste areas — in the latter, players are free to sole the clubs — everything was deemed to be a bunker back in 2004.

The rule isn’t exactly ambiguous, is it? There was some question in Johnson’s mind whether he was in a bunker or not, but the nitty-gritty truth is, if there’s sand, it’s a trap. And he fell into it. The rules official explained as much as Johnson watched the replay, over and over.

“Pretty much he said that any piece of sand on the whole golf course is a bunker,” Johnson shrugged.

Course owner Herb Kohler, while feeling terrible for Johnson, echoed Elling’s sentiments that rules are rules:

“It’s a bunker,” Kohler said. “Whether it’s outside the ropes or inside the ropes doesn’t make any difference, it’s still a bunker. Hard lessons in life I tell you, but it was on the rules sheet.

“I’m not sure it’s negative. It’s hard, it’s terrible and it’s crushing for Dustin. It’s crushing for everyone that watched and heard and feels for Dustin. On the other hand, darn it, it’s the rules of golf.

“The point is, golf has rules. And the beauty of golf is, those rules apply to all of us. Be it professional or amateur and the values of golf have evolved from the rules of golf. And it’s those values that are really quite precious.

“They all knew it.”

While it must have felt – and still does this morning, I am sure – a brutal kick in the teeth to Johnson, you have to admire the class, dignity and self-control he exhibited while going through one of the most devastating incidents that he has surely faced in his professional golf career. I’m not sure I would have handled it that well. Actually, I know I wouldn’t have – they’d still be following me around the streets of Kohler, Wisconsin on a slow speed chase this morning as I erratically tooled about town in a white golf cart, imploring me to politely return the Wanamaker Trophy before someone has to get hurt.

But not Johnson. Despite the brutal heartbreak he must be going through right now, he will always be looked upon as an incredibly honorable player who took an absolutely brutal blow like a man.  Which leads me to wonder: was Dustin Johnson, like Smokey, a conscientious objector? And you know right about now he has emotional problems. He’s fragile, man. He’s very fragile today.

Weep for Johnson if you must, but rules are rules [CBS Sports]
Wrong. All of it. Ditto for everyone involved [Yahoo!/AP]