PGA Tour

No repeat of 'Johnson bunker' drama

2015-08-11 10:16
Dustin Johnson (File)

Cape Town - The so-called bunker that cost Dustin Johnson a spot in the playoff at the 2010 PGA Championship will not be an issue when the tournament returns to Whistling Straits this week, according to New Zealander Frank Nobilo.

That is because the small area of sand where Johnson grounded his club on the final hole, thereby incurring a two-stroke penalty, has fallen victim to the ever-encroaching demands of commercialism.

"That bunker on 18 is actually halfway under a sponsor stand now, which is a touch of irony there, so he'd get relief (a free drop outside the bunker)," former PGA Tour winner Nobilo said during a pre-tournament conference call.

Nobilo has just spent three days at the course in Kohler, Wisconsin, filming segments for extensive Golf Channel coverage of the year's fourth and final major championship.

Five years ago, Johnson grounded his club because he did not realise the small area of sand was even a bunker on the par-four hole.

Whistling Straits, situated adjacent to Lake Michigan in the Wisconsin countryside, has about 1,000 bunkers, but the edges of many are so indistinct that it is difficult to know where they begin and end.

Consequently officials deemed all sandy areas to be hazards, in an effort to avoid the sort of situation that happened to Johnson.

The two-stroke penalty imposed on Johnson cost him a spot in the playoff won by Germany's Martin Kaymer over American Bubba Watson for the 2010 PGA Championship.

Five years later, Johnson, now 31, is still seeking his first major title, and even though age is still on his side, there are no guarantees he will ever close the deal.

Nobilo does not sugarcoat the possibility that it may never happen.

"When you look at those guys on the leaderboard in 2010, Martin Kaymer has two major championships, Bubba Watson has two, Zach Johnson has two, (Jason) Dufner one, (Steve) Elkington has one and obviously Rory McIlroy has four, so the one absentee there that is glaring is Dustin Johnson," Nobilo said.

Johnson has blown good opportunities at the past two majors, missing a three-foot putt that would have forced a playoff with Jordan Spieth at the U.S. Open before frittering away the 36-hole lead at last month's British Open.

"It's very hard to sort of answer a question on what needs to be done," said Nobilo. "He got halfway there at St. Andrews. For him to finish 75-75 at St. Andrews was unexplainable."

Read more on:    pga championship  |  dustin johnson  |  golf


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