‘I won’t ever do it again’: Dustin Johnson hit with first rules penalty of 2019

January 5, 2019

It didn’t take long for the Rules of Golf to strike on the PGA Tour in 2019. The unlucky victim of his own mistake is none other than Dustin Johnson. DJ’s blunder at the Tournament of Champions is the first official rules infraction of the year, but Johnson can’t blame the new rule changes for his error.

Here’s how it all went down.

Johnson hit a wild drive on the par-4 4th hole during the second round at Kapalua’s Plantation course. When he got up to the area of his ball, a marshal pointed to a hazard and told the former World No. 1 that he’d find his ball in there. Johnson found a TaylorMade ball and proceeded to hit his shot.

The problem is that it wasn’t his ball, after all. Upon realizing he had played the wrong ball, Johnson alerted the officials and he was charged two strokes for being in violation of rule 6.3.c of the Rules of Golf, which states a golfer “must not make a stroke at a wrong ball.”

Dustin Johnson (left) and Justin Thomas discuss DJ's situation on the 4th hole Friday at the Tournament of Champions.
Dustin Johnson (left) and Justin Thomas discuss DJ’s situation on the 4th hole Friday at the Tournament of Champions.
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Johnson took full blame for the error, saying “obviously it was my fault.”

“I should have — the Marshal had it marked, said it went in the hazard right there, so and there was a ball right there and it was a TaylorMade. I could see the logo on the side, so I just, obviously, just assumed it was mine. And it was way up in there, so I didn’t want to move anything. But I guess now understanding the new rule, I still, I got to identify, if it moves it’s not a penalty. So that won’t ever happen again. I can promise you that. But, yeah, it’s just bad luck,” Johnson said on Friday.

The penalty turned DJ’s par on the hole into a disappointing double bogey. He finished the day with a round of one-over 74, but he is still in contention at five under, seven shots behind leader Gary Woodland.

This is not the first time Johnson has been the center of a rules controversy. He was famously charged with a one-stroke penalty during the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open when his ball moved slightly on the green. He went on to win anyway, capturing his first major victory, and the rule was later changed by golf’s governing bodies.

But DJ fans shouldn’t expect any similar infractions from the Tour star going forward, as he declared, “I won’t ever do it again.”