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Golf's Biggest Mistakes

Dustin Johnson's rules violation at the 2010 PGA Championship was just another in a long list of screw ups by professional golfers
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Jim Belushi, November/December 2010

(continued from page 2)

It was then than De Vicenzo uttered one of the most memorable lines in sport: "What a stupid I am."

Craig Stadler

Craig Stadler's rules contretemps at the 1987 Andy Williams San Diego Open ushered in the age of television viewer as rules monitor. Stadler's drive on the 14th hole of Torrey Pines finished underneath a tree. He figured the only way he could play the shot was from his knees. He also figured he didn't want to get his pants dirty. So he took the towel from his bag and placed it on the grass so that he could kneel on it. He played the shot and went on to finish the round in second place.

But a savvy and ambitious television viewer saw a violation and got through to the tournament rules officials. The viewer pointed out that the use of a towel was in violation of a rule that prohibits a player from "building a stance." Because he had done so, Stadler should have assessed himself a two-shot penalty. But he didn't and signed for a score that was two shots less. PGA Tour officials agreed that the towel was in violation of the rule and Stadler was disqualified from the tournament.

In 1995, Stadler was given his chance for revenge. The tree was to be taken down, and Stadler got the first cut.

Julie Inkster

Just a week after Dustin Johnson's blunder, LPGA veteran Julie Inkster had a brain cramp, another one witnessed by a television viewer.

Inkster was contending in the LPGA Safeway Classic at North Plains, Oregon, and was three shots out of the lead in the middle of the third round. There was a long backup on the 10th hole, so Inkster reached into her bag and took out a weighted training aid, attached it to her club and started swinging to stay limber. A television viewer called, saying that using a training aid during a round of golf was a rules violation, which indeed it is.

To confirm it, the LPGA called the USGA, which along with Royal and Ancient Golf Society of St Andrews governs the game, and a USGA official confirmed that it was indeed a violation of the rules. Use of a training aid during a round doesn't incur penalty shots, it's outright automatic disqualification.

Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie is the most famous female golfer of the new century, and also the most infamous. Wie has a career's worth of blunders in her first six seasons playing as a professional. She has been star-crossed by the rules of golf, though in truth they are all situations of her own making.

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