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PGA Tour Confidential: Dustin Johnson's bunker penalty, Kaymer's win, Tiger, Phil and more

Dustin Johnson, 18th green, 2010 PGA Championship
Credit: John Biever/SI
Dustin Johnson thought he was heading into a playoff with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer until a rules official told him there was a question about his second shot.

Every week of the 2010 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Dustin Johnson was penalized two shots for grounding his club in a messy bunker in the rough where fans were walking on the 72nd hole. The penalty kept him out of a playoff. Is this a bad rule? Should the bunkers have been declared waste areas? (They originally were in the '04 PGA but then officials changed their minds before the tourney, leading to a penalty for Stuart Appleby.) I don't see how bunkers that spectators have frolicked in, which are unraked and unkept, should be considered bunkers. They're waste areas. Your thoughts?

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: I agree that those bunkers SHOULDN'T be considered bunkers — not after families have sat in them and children have built sand castles in them — but the players were told at the beginning of the week that they were legitimate bunkers and they couldn't ground a club in them. Horrible break for Johnson, but he simply screwed up.

Van Sickle: John is right. Every player knew those bunkers would be an issue before the week began. It was imperative to check on that rule and be prepared. Dustin Johnson should've known that rule.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: I agree with Gary that some of those bunkers should have been waste areas. Definitely a flaw in Pete Dye's Whistling Straits design. Who needs all those dinky bunkers? Declaring that they were all bunkers and not waste areas was a cop-out by the PGA.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I wondered about those bunkers all week. They look like divots taken by giants. Ridiculous. Why?

Garrity: It seems like a cop-out, but I don't know where they could have drawn the line. Many of those bunkers have gallery ropes running right down the middle of them. One side was raked, the other side looked like the beach at Coney Island on the Fourth of July.

Herre: Maybe some of the bunkers simply need to be filled in.

David Dusek, deputy editor, The fact that a player can't tell that a bare patch, surrounded by fans standing in sand, is a bunker should be all the proof needed to get some of the "bunkers" removed.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It should have been marked a waste area, yes. But it wasn't. And the players are responsible to know the difference.

Garrity: Dustin was totally focused on the situation and the shot. His lie looked like one of those sandy/hardpan lies you get on a lot of munis. I totally accept that he didn't think he was in a bunker. I mean, where else on tour do you have spectators standing in bunkers?

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: All the groups have rules officials with them. The PGA of America was careful at the beginning of the week to let players know the ruling on these bunkers. It's unfortunate, but as Dustin just said to Feherty, "I guess I should have looked at my rules sheet more closely." Too bad for golf.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I agree. And his caddie has to help him there. The guy gave him a club and disappeared down the hill.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Caddies always get blamed. Always. Yes, the caddie could've spoken up, but the burden ultimately falls on the player. Remember, caddies are supposed to show up, keep up and shut up.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Sports Illustrated: Plenty of blame to go around. Seems like maybe one fan would've said, "Hey, I think I'm standing in a bunker."

Godich: I bet they walked up to the ball, saw the lie and thought, "What a break. Considering where we hit it, we couldn't have asked for a better lie."

Evans: No one else broke the rule all week. What does that say?

Van Sickle: No one else broke the rule all week... that we know of. TV cameras weren't watching everybody.

Dusek: I'd bet a lot of money that some players unknowingly did the exact same thing. But since they weren't on the cusp of winning a major, with the whole world watching, nothing happened.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Back to the idea that Johnson should've known the rule. As he said, it never crossed his mind that it was a bunker. You just couldn't see it. Even if he had the rule tattooed on his forehead, it wouldn't have helped because he couldn't tell it was a "bunker."

Hanger: That's why I'm not convinced it was a bunker. They've been saying all week that no one even knows for sure how many bunkers are on this course — they've tried to count them but haven't been able to do it. If that's the case, and I'm Dustin Johnson, I'm protesting until someone shows me a course map that clearly identifies a bunker in that exact spot. David Feherty was standing on that exact spot after the fact and he wasn't sure it was a trap.

Godich: There was a pretty good sized lip to the right. Feherty said it best.

Dusek: But with fans surrounding him, could Johnson see that lip? People were 10 deep around him in every direction.

Godich: Probably not. As said I before: 1. The caddie has to help him there. 2. I think he was stunned to see he had drawn such a good lie. The fact that he might have been in a bunker never crossed his mind.

Bamberger: Whenever a player's ball is sitting on sand, the alarms should go off. But it was mayhem, and he was playing for a major title.

Van Sickle: The shame of this incident is, it's going to overshadow the playoff and the winner. Much like the Roberto de Vicenzo scorecard incident or the imperfect perfect game this season. Are you going to remember Kaymer or Bubba? Or will you remember D.J. and the bunker? I think the latter.

Garrity: I'm going to remember David Feherty. I liked his line about how it might have been a bunker at the beginning of the week, but it wasn't one now.

Evans: He said it looked like a manger.

Bamberger: The course is so unnatural that the players can't tell the hazards from the playing surfaces. I know everybody seems to love this course, but when it's all said and done, and I know I'm repeating myself here, it represents all that's wrong with modern design. Obscenely expensive and unplayable for us — or me, anyway.

Lipsey: One thing's for sure: We'll remember Johnson and the ruling more than the winner.

Godich: That was a pretty classy interview Johnson gave on TV right afterward. You have to admire how he handled it.

Dusek: That's Johnson falling on the sword for the PGA. He's taking the high road. Sunday was a classic, filled with drama and great shots, and the ruling against Johnson is going to leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth about it. The PGA is coming back in five years for another championship, and it goes without saying it will change the rule.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Can you imagine if Johnson had made that last putt on 18 and raised his arms in victory? That's about the only way this ruling could've hurt worse than it already does.

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