A play during the final round of the U.S. Open sparked a major controversy as no one knew who was leading for part of the round due to uncertainty over an incident on the fifth green. The incident involved eventual tournament winner Dustin Johnson, whose ball moved slightly as he was preparing to make a putt.
Johnson immediately consulted a USGA official, who informed him that he would not be penalized for the ball movement because he did not appear to purposely cause the ball to move. However, the USGA later reconsidered its position, informing Johnson at the 12th hole that the incident was under review, meaning he may or may not be penalized a stroke.
Johnson had just surged past Shane Lowry to lead the tournament, but the standings were now unclear pending the review.
The announcement sparked a flurry of social media protests, including tweets during the tournament from top pro golfers such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, with the consensus being the USGA had blown it — and that the uncertainty unfairly put pressure on Johnson.
Wrote McIlroy: “This is ridiculous… No penalty whatsoever for DJ. Let the guy play without this crap in his head. Amateur hour from @USGA.”
Johnson, however, finished strong, opening up a lead on the struggling Lowry and the rest of the field and finishing four strokes ahead of Lowry and two other golfers — a lead that was reduced to three strokes when the USGA in fact enforced the one-stroke penalty.