Another lesson learned through sport...
In 1925 Bobby Jones assessed himself a one stroke penalty in the first round of the U.S. Open for making a ball move when he addressed it. This ended up costing Bobby Jones the victory when he lost in a 36 hole playoff at Worcester Country Club. It is one of the most storied sportsmanship moments in sports. Jones was lauded for his decision; no one else saw it happen, and his playing partner Walter Hagen tried to talk him out of the penalty for the last 7 holes, as the penalty wouldn't be official until the scorecard was signed.
"You might as well praise me for not robbing a bank. There is only one way to play the game," Jones said after the round was played.
Today, Dustin Johnson, the man who shot 82 at Pebble Beach this June, bounced back and shot a dazzling 3 under par on the back nine to earn a playoff spot with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson. However, on the last hole of the tournament Johnson hit his tee shot into a bunker, a bunker that fans were standing in. A bunker that the rules said was a bunker. A bunker that common sense would tell you was not a bunker.
Martin Kaymer: The Champ. He showed up on this blog in my Masters post... I jinxed him. It was the only non-top five finish in a major for him...
That bunker was not like any other groomed bunker on the course, which when you touch your club to that sand it costs you two strokes. It costed Dustin Johnson a whole lot more. It cost him a chance to play in a playoff. This bunker was missing a lot of things that make a bunker a bunker to every weekend hacker. There was no rake, no lip, and there was no respect for the sand trap. The fans were crowded around Johnson as he measured his shot. The local rules stated that anything that looks like a bunker falls under the rules of a bunker. Even if people could stand in it.
Now that may sound simple, but a lot of courses also have waste areas. They look like bunkers, but you are allowed to ground your club before making your swing to hit the ball. This is what Johnson thought he was in, or he thought he was in a "manger" as Daid Ferherty called it.
You could feel the air come out of the entire tournament once Johnson was assessed his two stroke penalty. The clip of him erasing his "5" on his card and writing a "7" will go down in history. Johnson carried himself so wonderfully, he could have blamed a lot of things. He blamed no one. He could have disappeared after the decision was handed down. He didn't. He was a class act. he gave an interview, he shook his opponents hands and he will be back.
Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce... forever tied in history...
This past spring Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game. Jim Joyce missed a call and it cost Galarrage a chance at history. Let's be honest, he robbed him of history. Galarraga laughed, went back to the mound and finished the game. He did not lash out after the game. He was a class act too. I showed my 4th grade students a clip of Galarraga's reaction, I asked them to tell me what they saw. They saw a man who was laughing, a man who took the decision in stride. They were shocked. I made sure they understood how great this was, and also that they needed to realize they needed to keep this in mind when playing games themselves.
Dustin Johnson has put himself firmly into the hearts of a lot of golf fans. His disastrous finish at Pebble Beach and now this, and he has carried himself most impressively. In this day and age of Tiger, Favre, and LeBron and all the egocentric sports idols the media has forced upon us, remember that if you look in the right places there are still athletes who are classy, who honor the game, who honor the rules, and who are going to put their head down and continue to work hard.
They say what goes around comes around; Tiger is feeling it, maybe LeBron will, and I hope that Dustin Johnson does too.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Another lesson learned through sport...