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PGA: Different strokes (updated)

Let me preface my comments about Sunday's PGA Championship by pointing out that I am enough of a golf fan to spend the last four days in the Lake Tahoe area trying to gain some command of the game, which brings me to my first question of the day:

When you need to birdie the eighth and ninth holes to finish the front nine at 45, is that good?

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Didn't think so, but that's not really what I wanted to talk about. I'm pondering what happened to Dustin Johnson and trying to make sense of a sport that has no problem turning to instant replay to scuttle the guy's chance of joining a three-man playoff for the PGA championship, but clings inflexibly to a set of arcane rules that create that kind of sad scenario.

I know that the rules are the rules, but when the incompetence of the PGA creates a situation where hundreds of spectators are allowed to obscure an obstacle so that one of the tournament leaders cannot even see the entire area around his ball, it would seem reasonable to expect something more than a strict interpretation of a local course rule that was news to most of the players in the event. Especially when that player has already walked off the course in an apparent three-way tie for the lead.

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Of course, why should anyone be surprised? This is, after all, a sport that is willing to disqualify a player for accidentally misreporting one stroke even though the scores of every player are kept independently and broadcast by the television networks on a minute-by-minute basis. Do you really think somebody ought to lose the U.S. Open after four hard days of competition over a typo?

This is just the latest stupid golf trick, but don't expect it to be the last. I watched the interviews after the PGA and the golf bureaucrats are sure they did exactly the right thing. Give Johnson credit for handling the situation with class when he could have been forgiven for signing his scorecard and sticking it in somebody's ear.

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