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Published: 08:33 | 21/6/16

USGA sorry for Johnson incident


The United States Golf Association has apologised for the way in which it handled Dustin Johnson's penalty during the final round of the US Open.

Johnson was two shots clear of the field when he was approached by a rules official on the 12th tee who informed him that officials would review an incident on the fifth hole after the round.

Standing over his ball on the fifth green, Johnson took practice putts but when he prepared to take his shot the ball moved slightly. He spoke with a rules official who was happy there had been no infringement only for the American to be told he faced a penalty drop seven holes later.

Despite having the penalty hanging over him, Johnson remained calm and went on to card a final round 68 to finish four clear clear of Shane Lowry, Scott Piercy and Jim Furyk, although his advantage was cut when a shot was taken off him.

A number of the world's leading players expressed their unhappiness at the situation and the USGA has now apologised for how it dealt with the incident.

"Upon reflection, we regret the distraction caused by our decision to wait until the end of the round to decide on the ruling," read a statement.

"It is normal for rulings based on video evidence to await the end of a round, when the matter can be discussed with the player before the score card is returned.

"While our focus on getting the ruling correct was appropriate, we created uncertainty about where players stood on the leader board after we informed Dustin on the 12th tee that his actions on the fifth green might lead to a penalty.

"This created unnecessary ambiguity for Dustin and the other players, as well as spectators on-site, and those watching and listening on television and digital channels.

"During any competition, the priority for Rules officials is to make the correct ruling for the protection of the player(s) involved and the entire field.

"In applying Rule 18-2, which deals with a ball at rest that moves, officials consider all the relevant evidence - including the player's actions, the time between those actions and the movement of the ball, the lie of the ball, and course and weather conditions.

"If that evidence, considered together, shows that it is more likely than not that the player's actions caused the ball to move, the player incurs a one-stroke penalty.

"Officials use this "more likely than not" standard because it is not always apparent what caused the ball to move. Such situations require a review of the evidence, with Decision 18-2/0.5 providing guidance on how the evidence should be weighed.

"Our officials reviewed the video of Dustin on the fifth green and determined that based on the weight of the evidence, it was more likely than not that Dustin caused his ball to move. "Dustin's putter contacted the ground at the side of the ball, and almost immediately after, the ball moved."

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