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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 3)

How about being disqualified from her first tournament as a pro in 2005?

During the third round of the Samsung World Championship at Palm Desert, California, Wie hit a shot into a bush. After much deliberation about where to take a drop, for which she would incur a penalty of a shot for removing her ball from an unplayable lie, Wie's ball ended up in a spot closer to the hole. At least that's what Sports Illustrated reporter Michael Bamberger, who was following the group, thought. Though he did not inform rules officials until the next day. After Wie had apparently finished the tournament in fourth place, rules officials informed her of the possible violation.

In an extraordinary move, the officials went back to the scene of the alleged crime, used string to measure where the drop was taken after reviewing a television tape, and determined that she had dropped the ball three inches closer to the hole than would be allowed. Because she did, andbecause she didn't assess herself a two-shot penalty, she was disqualified.

That was the beginning of a series of rules violations, sort of golf's version of juvenile delinquency. At the 2006 British Women's Open, she was assessed a two-stroke penalty after play was completed when officials reviewing a videotape ruled that she had made illegal contact with moss in a bunker during her backswing. In 2008 she neglected to sign her scorecard after the second round of the State Farm Classic. The oversight wasn't discovered until the next day, and when it was, she was disqualified.

In March of this year, Wie was assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding her club in a hazard during the Kia Classic at La Costa, California. She had driven the ball into the verge of a water hazard on the 13th hole. She had grounded her club, she said, to keep her balance before hitting the shot, which is not a violation. But a rules official who observed the situation didn't buy it and assessed her the penalty.

"It's Murphy's Law," she said afterward.

Porky Oliver

The portly Ed "Porky" Oliver had a reasonable career during the 1940s and '50s. He won eight PGA Tour events, but was probably better known for finishing second in the majors. He lost to Ben Hogan in the final of the 1946 PGA Championship when it was a match play event. He finished second to Julius Boros in the 1952 U.S. Open and second to Hogan again, this time at the 1953 Masters.

Oliver's first big shot at glory was short-circuited by the rules of golf. At the 1940 U.S. Open at Canterbury in Ohio, Oliver was in contention after three rounds. There was a storm on the horizon, so Oliver and five other players teed off about 15 minutes early for their fourth round.

Oliver shot a 71 and was tied with Gene Sarazen and Lawson Little and should have had a spot in the play-off. But the rules of golf require that you tee off at your designated time. Oliver was disqualified.

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