U.S. Open officials say they will review Dustin Johnson’s putting setup on No. 5 to definitively decide if he was responsible for making the ball move during Sunday’s final round at Oakmont Country Club.
If so, Johnson will be assessed a one-shot penalty. Johnson told a Fox reporter there was “no way” he made the ball move. An officlal ruled at the time he was not responsible.
Johnson stood over a six-foot putt and took a few practice strokes alongside the ball. As he moved his putter behind the ball — but did not ground it — the ball moved slightly backward.
Johnson called over an official, insisted he did not make the ball move and was allowed to remark without a penalty. He made the putt for par.
But officials, looking at a replay, indicated that, unless Johnson could provide another reason for the ball to move — a gust of wind, etc. — he would be deemed to have made the ball move and would be assessed a penalty stroke at the end of the round.
On the Fox telecast, USGA official Jeff Hall said he told Johnson “the actions that he took very well could have caused the ball to move.” Hall said Johnson told him, “I don’t believe I caused the ball to move.”
After 13 holes, Johnson (-5) was leading Shane Lowry by one shot.
Nothing ever comes easily for Johnson.
He three-putt on the final hole to hand last year’s U.S. Open title to Jordan Spieth.
He missed out on a playoff at the 2010 PGA Championship when he grounded his club in a patch of sand without realizing it was a bunker, perhaps because it was covered with litter and footprints from spectators at Whistling Straits.