Experts speak out on Dustin Johnson's controversial penalty

By Justin Felder - bio | email

(WMBF) – When Myrtle Beach resident Dustin Johnson was penalized two strokes for grounding his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship, it instantly became the talk of the golf world.

Johnson finished tied for fifth at the tournament instead of being in a playoff to win it because of the penalty. After the tournament, Johnson said on CBS he didn't think he was hitting out of a bunker. His former swing coach agrees.

"Never one time thought Dustin was in a bunker, no," said CCU men's golf head coach Allen Terrell.

Terrell says once he saw Johnson's reaction when a rules official approached him on the 18th green, he knew there was a problem. Terrell was proud to see his former pupil react in such a calm, composed manner.

"The rules are the rules, and Dustin will say the same thing," said Terrell. "That's how Dustin plays."

Terrell says he hasn't spoken to Johnson since the end of the tournament. He did note, however, Johnson's making the USA Ryder Cup Team would be a proud moment for Johnson, a "good old country boy from South Carolina."

Pete Dye designed Whistling Straits, the golf course that hosted the PGA Championship. Dye also designed The Dye Course at Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach. Dye Club PGA Head Professional Jeff Diehl says his Grand Strand course, like the one in Wisconsin, has tracks of dirt in the rough — those, however, are not considered hazards.

Diehl says Johnson should have been more careful hitting out of any sandy area, but he didn't really have the chance to be.

"As you step into an area like that, you need to double check where you're at and your surroundings," said Diehl. "Unfortunately, I don't think he was able to see his surroundings. I think the marshals should've stepped in right of the back, cleared off the area so he could get the lay of the land so to speak. See what's in front of him, see what's around him and his environment of what he needs to hit out of."

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