Dustin Johnson, one of the best American golfers who had never won a major title, captured the U.S. Open Sunday at Oakmont, Pennsylvania; a suburb of Pittsburgh.
After an excruciating second place finish in last year's U.S. Open and fourth place at this year's Masters, Johnson scored a come-from-behind victory by closing with a 1-under-par 69 and four-under for the four rounds. He won by three shots over fellow Americans Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy, and Ireland's Shane Lowry.
In aiming to become the first Irish player to win the U.S. Open, Lowry suffered similar heartbreak to what Johnson went through last year. Lowry led by four shots entering the final round, but struggled with his putting and ballooned to a 6-over-par 76 for the final 18 holes. Last year, Johnson let a two-shot lead with nine holes to play get away, then missed a 1-meter putt on the final hole that kept him from getting into a playoff.
"It feels great. Obviously I've been here a bunch of times and haven't gotten it done," Johnson said afterward.
For a debatable rules infraction on the fifth hole of Sunday's final round, Johnson was assessed a one-stroke penalty by U.S. golf's governing body, the USGA, but after play concluded. And
Johnson was not even informed of the possible infraction until he was on the tee at the 12th hole.
That sparked widespread criticism by the U.S. television broadcasters as well as some highly critical tweets by some of the top professional golfers already out of contention. The broadcasters pointed out that it would be very difficult to play strategically without knowing if you were going to be docked a stroke.
A USGA official said after reviewing video it was determined Johnson inadvertently caused his ball to move on the fifth green when he grounded his putter. He said the USGA informed other officials on the course to notify the golfers still playing that Johnson had likely incurred the penalty. It had not been reflected on the scoreboards.
The official said Johnson accepted the penalty and handled the conversation about it on the course with the USGA "beautifully."
But it could have played a huge part in the outcome. Johnson said when he was informed, he just tried to focus and not worry about the possible penalty stroke. And unlike last year's troubles on the 18th hole, Johnson closed with a birdie this time, saying his second shot to the green might have been "one of the best shots I've ever hit under the circumstances."
Johnson, who turns 32 Wednesday, called it his best Father's Day ever, as he celebrated his victory with not only a $1.8 million first prize check, but also in the presence of his 18-month-old son Tatum and wife Paulina, who is the daughter of former Canadian ice hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky