PGA Tour

US Open rules mess still hot topic

2016-06-22 11:11
Rickie Fowler (Supplied)

Bethesda - World No 6 Rickie Fowler and rivals at this week's PGA National tournament were still shaking their heads on Tuesday at the penalty stroke mess surrounding Dustin Johnson's US Open victory.

US Golf Association (USGA) officials decided against a penalty stroke against Johnson after his ball appeared to move as he swung the putter beside it on the fifth green, only to tell him seven holes later there would be a review and a penalty was still possible.

"Ultimately Dustin didn't cause the ball to move," Fowler said.

"It's virtually impossible to make a hard enough swing next to the ball to make the ball oscillate or move. And the fact the ball moved backwards up the hill. I can guarantee you he had no influence on that ball moving."

Johnson ignored the issue to win his first major title Sunday at Oakmont by three shots after the penalty was imposed, and the USGA apologised for mishandling the situation on Monday.

"The right guy won," said National defending champion Troy Merritt. "I was definitely happy to see Dustin pull it out."

Fowler, who tweeted on Sunday the USGA decision was "ridiculous" and "laughable", was among those who remained mystified after a practice round at Congressional Country Club for the Tiger Woods-hosted event.

"It's a little tough to have a situation come up seven holes later and you've got to play the final round of the US Open with that going on," Fowler said. "For Dustin to win with all of that on top of it, it's pretty impressive."

Fowler, a top-five finisher in all four majors in 2014 who has yet to win a major crown, said the same issue is usually settled quickly in PGA Tour events.

"A lot of times it's handled between the group and whoever the official is that's close by," Fowler said. "It almost should have been done with right there on the green (for Johnson) and play goes on."

Woods, a 14-time major winner, tweeted that Johnson played"some great golf" and had a "strong way to finish overcoming that rules farce."

Woods has not played a PGA event since last August following back surgery last September.

An update on his condition is expected on Wednesday but two weeks ago he said on his website: "I'm making progress, but I'm not yet ready for tournament competition."

Johnson's victory dropped Fowler into the fourth and final US spot for the Rio Olympics, where golf returns to the Games line-up. Fowler said he has not decided on going if he makes the squad, which as of now also includes Johnson, second-ranked Jordan Spieth and number five Bubba Watson.

"Still going to be doing a lot of homework over the next week or two to really know where we stand on that," he said. "We want to make sure we study up and know exactly where we stand and make the right decision."

Patrick Reed, ranked 13th and also playing this week, is the next in line for a US spot in Rio.

Fowler was runner-up last year when the event was played at the Robert Trent Jones course in northern Virginia, but it has shifted back to its usual 7,569-yard layout, the same Congressional course where Rory McIlroy won the 2011 US Open.

"I've always loved the look of the course. I just haven't been able to play well here yet," Fowler said. "It's time to change that."

Fowler has been fighting swing and putter issues, missing the cut at the Masters and at his past three events, the Players Championship, Memorial and last week's US Open.

"Not driving it well and then not able to scramble and make the par putts, then not able to really get into a good rhythm or build momentum through the round," Fowler said.

"So it has just made it tough to really get off to a good start in tournaments, hence the missed cuts."

Read more on:    rickie fowler  |  golf

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