With a brutal penalty looming, Dustin Johnson pulls away to win US Open

Dustin Johnson David Cannon/Getty

Dustin Johnson won the US Open at Oakmont despite having to play a large chunk of his final round not knowing if he would have to take a penalty stroke for a ball that moved just prior to a putt.

Johnson’s entire round – and thus the entire championship – hung in the balance over a controversial moment on the fifth green.

As he stood over the ball to putt for par on hole 5, Johnson’s ball moved ever so slightly. It was extremely hard to tell from the video whether or not Johnson’s putter caused the ball to move, or whether it simply moved on its own, but for causing the movement, Johnson would receive a one-stroke penalty.

Here’s the moment:

Dustin Johnson Ball Movement On 5th Hole

— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) June 19, 2016

Perhaps most cruelly of all, the USGA told Johnson that they would not rule until after he finished the round. And so, Johnson played the majority of his Sunday at Oakmont at the US Open – in contention for his first major championship – with a possible one-stroke penalty looming over him and Shane Lowry just one stroke back.

As if Oakmont wasn’t challenging enough on its own.

In the end, the other contenders fell off the pace. Johnson finished at 4-under, three strokes better than three other golfers, including Lowry. When the penalty was added after the round, it no longer mattered.

Here’s Jeff Hall of the USGA explaining on live TV why the USGA made the decision to tell Johnson, but not rule immediately.

“We thought that was the only thing we could do” @USGA‘s Jeff Hall on notifying DJ about a possible penalty. #USOpen

— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 19, 2016

Fellow PGA tour players – the ones not in contention here – have taken to Twitter to bash the USGA for its handling of the situation.

@USGA treatment of @DJohnsonPGA absolutely shocking. No way he made the ball move.

— Ernie Els (@TheBig_Easy) June 19, 2016

This is ridiculous… No penalty whatsoever for DJ. Let the guy play without this crap in his head. Amateur hour from @USGA

— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) June 19, 2016

Don’t cheat the children USGA!! Let the kids play!!

— Smylie Kaufman (@SmylieKaufman10) June 19, 2016

Lemme get this straight.. DJ doesn’t address it. It’s ruled that he didn’t cause it to move. Now you tell him he may have? Now? This a joke?

— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) June 19, 2016

Remember, too, that in 2010 at Whistling Straights, Johnson unintentionally grounded his club in a bunker, which cost him the PGA Championship. Last year, he gifted Jordan Spieth the US Open on the 18th green. That he was able to hold on and win by more than one stroke makes this win all the more impressive.

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