Ireland’s Shane Lowry let slip a four-shot lead as Dustin Johnson won his first major amid a farcical finish to the US Open at Oakmont.
The controversy revolved around whether Johnson should have been penalised when his ball moved on the fifth green.
All players were told mid-round the incident would be reviewed post-round and a stroke was added to his score.
Lowry had three successive bogeys from the 14th to finish one under as Johnson won by three shots on four under par.
American Jim Furyk shot a four-under 66 to finish tied for second with compatriot Scott Piercy (69) and Lowry.
England’s Lee Westwood, playing alongside Johnson, started the day on two under par but had a 10-over 80 to finish on eight over.
However, it was the way that tournament organisers the United States Golf Association (USGA) handled the situation that is stealing the headlines.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut, said on Twitter that no penalty was warranted and called the USGA “amateur”, while world number two Jordan Spieth added it was “a joke”.
Controversy mars final round
Johnson had opened a two-shot lead on Lowry by the 12th hole, however he was informed by a rules official as he stood on the tee that once his round was finished they wanted him to review television footage of an incident on the fifth green that could lead to a penalty stroke being added to his score.
The American had been standing over his ball and made two practice putts. As he prepared to address the ball to make his putting swing, his ball moved slightly. Johnson pulled away saying that he had not addressed the ball – had he done so, he would have incurred a one-shot penalty.
Johnson’s playing partner Westwood could clearly be heard saying that the American had not addressed the ball.
Johnson checked with a rules official, who was happy that there had been no infringement and he went on to par the hole.
However, that decision was later overturned and Johnson signed for a one-under-par 69.
“It’s definitely sweet to get that major championship,” said Johnson, who claimed he was not affected by the officials’ intervention.
“At that point I just thought I’d deal with it when I’m done,” he said. “I tried to block it out and not let it bother me.
“Who cares, it doesn’t matter any more.”
It will be some retribution for the 31-year-old who had a 12-foot putt to win last year’s US Open at Chambers Bay but took three to hand the title to Jordan Spieth.
He also missed out on a first major victory when he was handed a two-shot penalty for grounding his club in a bunker at the 2010 PGA Championship.
Players not happy with late farce
During round two, Lowry, as professional golfers do, called a one-shot penalty on himself when his ball moved after he had addressed it on the putting surface.
The Irishman refused to use the confusion surrounding Johnson’s penalty as an excuse for his own demise.
He had already bogeyed four holes to drop to three under, two behind Johnson, by the time he learned of the potential penalty.
“It didn’t affect me much at all,” said Lowry.
“I just feel like I let it go. I’m very disappointed. The more I think about it the more upset I’m getting.
“It’s going to be a tough few days. I led the US Open by four and I was tied for the lead with five holes to play. I am definitely good enough to win one of these.”
The former world number one started the day five off the lead at two under par and with hopes of winning his first major.
However, a run of five bogeys and a double bogey in six holes from the second shattered his round and extended his unwanted run to 73 majors without a victory.
Westwood had just one birdie, on the par-four 17th, as he recorded a 10-over-par 80 to finish on eight over.
More to follow.