John­son backs change to ball move­ment rule

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MEX­ICO CITY: World No 1 Dustin John­son, who shook off a baf­fling rules con­tro­versy to claim a break­through ma­jor ti­tle at the 2016 US Open, wel­comed Wed­nes­day’s pro­pos­als to sim­plify and speed up the game.

Golf ’s global gov­ern­ing bod­ies, the Royal and An­cient and the United States Golf As­so­ci­a­tion (USGA), un­veiled pro­posed re­forms that would elim­i­nate many penal­ties.

That would in­clude the penalty for a ball moving on the green un­less it was “vir­tu­ally cer­tain” the player caused it to move.

“Ob­vi­ously some of the rule changes I think are re­ally good, es­pe­cially the ball on the putting green,” John­son said on Wed­nes­day as he pre­pared for the World Golf Cham­pi­onships tour­na­ment in Mex­ico City.

“When you don’t feel like you caused it to move and you’re still get­ting a penalty, that, to me, makes no sense, so I think some of the rule changes are good.

“Ob­vi­ously they’re try­ing to sim­plify, just so there’s not so much con­fu­sion.”

John­son ended years of ma­jor mis­ery with his come-from-be­hind win at Oak­mont last June.

How­ever, he had to en­dure a per­plex­ing fi­nal few holes af­ter of­fi­cials in­formed him at the 12th that he could be pe­nalised for a po­ten­tial rules vi­o­la­tion on the fifth green, when high def­i­ni­tion video showed his ball moved slightly as he pre­pared to putt.

USGA of­fi­cials said the rule at the time stated that it need only be more likely than not that the player caused the ball to move for a penalty to be in­curred.

The penalty stroke was in­deed even­tu­ally ap­plied, but didn’t pre­vent John­son from win­ning by three strokes. AFP

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