Oakmont (Pennsylvania), June 20 (IANS) US Golfer Dustin Johnson claimed his maiden Major golf title registering a three-stroke victory in the 116th US Open here — although not without a farcical drama early in the fourth and final round.
The World No.6 carded a final-round 69 — one of seven sub-70 scores posted on Sunday — for a 72-hole total of four-under 276 to end a 0-for-28 drought in Majors. The last edition’s runner-up won by three strokes over Shane Lowry (76), Jim Furyk (66) and Scott Piercy (69).
For a golfer who has been stung by heartache and disappointment in several previous Majors, the 31-year-old showed remarkable focus, especially after a rules infraction situation cropped up on the fifth green. As he prepared for a short par putt, Johnson’s ball moved a millimetre. He immediately alerted his walking rules official, Mark Newell, and told him he didn’t cause the ball to move. Newell initially agreed with Johnson, but seven holes later, officials Jeff Hall and Thomas Pagel informed Dustin of a possible infraction of Rule 18-2, one that would be reviewed upon the completion of his round.
All the players on the course were told of the situation, one that eventually cost Johnson a penalty stroke upon video review. The stroke ultimately didn’t cost Johnson the championship.
“I felt like I wasn’t going to be penalized, so I just went about my business,” said Dustin of his game plan to usopen.com. “I just focused on the drive on 12th and from there on out, I knew it’s something we’d deal with when we got done.
“I’m glad it didn’t matter because that would have been bad. But, you know, it worked out,” added Dustin, who also finished joint runner-up in 2011 British Open.
But he was glad to end Major drought. “It feels really great,” said Dustin, who turns 32 on Wednesday. “After last year, to come back this year and perform like this, it definitely shows what kind of golfer I am, and it was awesome.
“To finally get that major win is huge. It’s definitely a huge monkey off my back. I feel a lot lighter.”
Seven of the nine US Open champions at Oakmont Country Club have been first-time Major winners, the exceptions being Ben Hogan (1953) and Larry Nelson (1983).
Dustin also joined Bob Jones (1923, ’26, ’29), Jack Nicklaus (1972), Payne Stewart (1999) and Tiger Woods (2008) as US Open champions who were runners-up the previous year.
He could relate to what happened to Lowry, who had returned to Oakmont early Sunday to complete the suspended third round. A 65 gave the three-time PGA European Tour winner a four-stroke cushion over unheralded PGA Tour rookie Andrew Landry and Johnson.
Lowry, who only had one three-putt green through 54 holes, had three on Sunday in a round in which he couldn’t sustain any momentum. The 29-year-old went out in three-over 38 and registered his only birdie on the par-five 12th, finishing with a six-over 76.
“Bitterly disappointed, standing here,” said Lowry, who was bidding to become the first golfer from Ireland to win this championship. “And, you know, it’s not easy to get yourself in a position I got myself in today. It was there for the taking and I didn’t take it.”
Landry, a local and sectional qualifier whose best finish in 11 PGA Tour events was last week’s tie for 41st in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, was two strokes worse.
“Obviously, it’s my best finish of the year (T-15). So I’m taking it as a positive and move on to the following weeks and just continue to prepare. I’ve been in this situation, so I’m going to learn from it,” said Landry.
India’s campaign at the year’s second Major had ended on Friday with both Anirban Lahiri and Jeev Milkha Singh missing out on the halfway cut.