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BISHER: Bunker fiasco gives Johnson a raw deal

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

Never have I seen a bunch of grown men, whose profession is golf, make a mockery of one of America’s classic championships. Pete Dye just designed the course, he wasn’t there to enforce the rules. It wasn’t he who allowed all those spectators to stand in the bunker with Dustin Johnson — if, indeed, it was a bunker, and I say that it isn’t.

If it had been Tiger Woods instead of Johnson, and Tiger was that close to winning a PGA Championship, do you think it would have a been a bunker? I’m happy it wasn’t, for it’s OK with me that Tiger was already on his way out of Whistling Straits. Maybe I had something the other day when I suggested, in jest, that it should be “Dire Straits.”

If it’s a bunker, what were all those people standing in it with one of the players? It looked like a patch of worn grass to me. Bunkers are supposed to be clearly defined. This is how one is defined in the USGA Rules of Golf:

“A bunker is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand ....”

The Scots knew a bunker from a worn patch of grass. There was nothing bunker-like in that piece of ground at Whistling Straits. Even Johnson’s caddie had placed his bag on what these PGA officials decided was a bunker. I had a premonition that Johnson was asking for trouble when he suddenly stepped away from his ball.

“Hit the danged thing!” I yelled at my widescreen, and would later wonder how many other contestants had done the same thing, but not in range of a TV camera.

And furthermore, what happened to crowd control? It was just a bungled piece of golfing authority gone wrong, and the PGA of America will have a long time living it down.

PS: Strange, this is a tournament ruled by professional golfing personnel, pros and golf shop operators, 28,000 of them across America. The U.S. Open is ruled by a bunch of suits and executives on leave. That’s where you would have expected it to happen.

I have had my say, and I leave it at that.

Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.