Dustin Johnson won the US Open to claim his first Major title by four shots despite uncertainty over a penalty stroke during the final round at Oakmont.
Dustin Johnson began the final round of the 2016 US Open four shots behind Ireland’s Shane Lowry but the pair were tied going into the back nine at Oakmont as the Irishman struggled to the turn in four-over-par.
Controversy then struck on the 12th tee when officials told Johnson they wanted to review an incident that had occurred on the 5th green.
The American faced a par putt on the par-4 5th when his ball clearly moved slightly after he’d made a couple of practice strokes. Johnson stood back off the putt and summoned the referee. At the time it appeared there would be no penalty as the official, and Johnson’s playing partner Lee Westwood, seemed happy that Johnson had not addressed the ball. But on the 12th officials approached Johnson and told him there may be a one-stroke penalty and that they wanted him to review footage of the incident after the round.
Related: Our full 117th US Open coverage
The other players in contention were informed of the possible penalty, but the uncertainty cast a shadow over the final holes of the tournament.
Shane Lowry was clearly fazed by the confusion and he faded on the run for home. Johnson, however, kept his composure and finished strongly to post a 72-hole total of five-under-par. That score was then pushed back to four-under when it was decided the penalty on the 5th hole would stand. Thankfully, it made no difference to the final outcome.
Shane Lowry on hitting the flop shot:
Johnson dropped a shot at the 14th, but he held on well over the closing four, making a great par save on the 16th then playing a majestic second shot to the final green to set up a closing birdie.
Lowry dropped three shots in a row from the 14th and finished in a tie for second with Scott Piercy and Jim Furyk, who had closed with an excellent 66.
The uncertainty around the penalty shot brought back memories of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2010 when Johnson grounded his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole and incurred a one-shot penalty, thereby missing a playoff by a shot. But this time Johnson wasn’t to be denied and he finally got over the line in first place to claim his first Major title.
It was a superb performance from Johnson and he showed great grit and determination in the face of adversity after the possible penalty was announced. But the USGA will face criticism over the way they managed the situation. The uncertainty over the ruling clearly affected the players, Shane Lowry in particular, and it must be questioned why the penalty wasn’t enforced immediately, making it clear what was required of the contenders on the run for home.
Sergio Garcia made a great move to get into contention on the front nine, reaching the turn in 33. But the Spaniard dropped three strokes in his last five holes and ended tied for fifth with Branden Grace.
World Number 1 Jason Day had a chance after reaching two-under thanks to an eagle at the 12th and a birdie at the 13th, but he finished double-bogey, bogey and fell back into a tie for eighth place.
Oakmont CC, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Purse $10,000,000, par 70
1 Dustin Johnson (USA) 67 69 71 68 275
T2 Jim Furyk (USA) 71 68 74 66 279
T2 Scott Piercy (USA) 68 70 72 69 279
T2 Shane Lowry (Ire) 68 70 65 76 279
T5 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 68 70 72 70 280
T5 Branden Grace (RSA) 73 70 66 71 280
7 Kevin Na (USA) 75 68 69 69 281
T8 Jason Dufner (USA) 73 71 68 70 282
T8 Zach Johnson (USA) 71 69 71 71 282
T8 Jason Day (Aus) 76 69 66 71 282
T8 Daniel Summerhays (USA) 74 65 69 74 282
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage