Monday, August 16, 2010

Did Dustin Johnson Break Two Rules On Sunday?

We're not going to re-hash whose at fault (everybody-the PGA, DJ, and DJ's caddy) for the debacle that was Dustin Johnson's 72nd hole on Sunday, but one thing did occur during that same pre-shot routine, that we feel may have been another rule violation by Johnson.

Prior to his second shot on 18, in which he did ground his club in what was a bunker(hazard), Dustin Johnson backed off of his ball. He then pointed to the ground where his ball was clearly being hit with a ray of sunlight, and instructed the fan(s) in the gallery to "just block it"- assuming he was meaning to 'block the sunlight from hitting my ball'.

After discussing it amongst our nerd golf selves, we shot some messages via Twitter, to some of the guys in the know relative to the golf world. Only one relevant golf media person replied, and he stated that he didn't think he had violated a rule, but that he wasn't positive.

We also called/e-mailed some of the local pros that we know in the Northern Virginia area, and of the three we got answers from, one said he did not think Johnson violated a rule regarding a fan blocking the sun, one said he may have, the third wasn't quite sure of any of it.

So we looked up the rule ourselves, and here is what we found.

In the USGA rules, under rule "14-2 Assistance", it states that a player must not accept physical assistance or protection from the elements.

It goes on to state under the Decisions category of the rule that a player cannot position a golf bag for the purpose of shading the ball, nor the use of a caddy, or any other person. The wording, though ambiguous, goes on to state:

While a player may not place an object or position a person for the purpose of blocking the sunlight from his ball, he may ask a person (e.g., a spectator) who is already in position not to move, so that a shadow remains over the ball, or to move, so that his shadow is not over the ball.

It is our feeling that Dustin Johnson's intention, with regard to having the spectator "block" the sunlight, most likely was so that everything was in "uniform", so to speak. Meaning, rather than have the entire gallery move- so that he was under the full cast of the sunlight (rather than just that one little beam), he figured it was just as easy to have the one or two spectators shadow it.

However, it would be nice to hear someone discuss the possible infraction, since it too is listed as a rule in golf's sometimes weird rule book.

(Before we go 'update' on you, please watch a chilling reminder-we still get chills, of how freaking awesome Tiger used to be. Noteworthy is the 1:07 mark, or what we like to call 'why Lanny Wadkins is no longer calling golf shots'. Also, how cool is Verne Lundquist's voice? Judge Patrick says he'd let Lundquist sit in the bedroom and do play by play, while the Judge was crushing some cougar he just picked up from the Ashburn Clydes)

Not to go "Update" on you, as Robert Stack used to do on one of the shows we used to watch growing up, that quite frankly sometimes gave us nightmares (Unsolved Mysteries), but some more information has been gathered, since we started writing this post on Monday:

A golf pro buddy of the Sportsyack- who is the best teaching pro we've ever taken lessons from, returned our call and told us this 'blocking the sun' rule is definitely a rule, but most likely would not have been able to be enforced, due to Johnson's proximity to the gallery on the shot, and the provisions that go with hitting shots in or around the gallery.

Secondly, the Junkies on 1067 The Fan in DC, had another stellar interview with John Feinstein, and when asked about it, Feinstein too indicated that the rule would've been hard to enforce under that circumstance. He did, however, bring up a time at Augusta when vegetarian Phil was questioned for why he told Bones not to move Phil's golf bag from the tee, which was positioned next to where Phil was hitting his tee shot. Phil's explanation, according to Feinstein, was that he didn't want him to move it, because he was ready to hit his shot.

please follow Sportsyackontap on twitter @sportsyack and @JudgePatrick

image courtesy of flickr. video courtesy of youtube.

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