Dustin Johnson World number one backs change to golf ball movement rule

Golf's global governing bodies unveiled proposed reforms that would eliminate many penalties.

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Dustin Johnson had to endure a perplexing final few holes after in Oakmont last June when officials informed him that he could be penalized after high definition video showed his ball moved slightly as he prepared to putt play

Dustin Johnson had to endure a perplexing final few holes after in Oakmont last June when officials informed him that he could be penalized after high definition video showed his ball moved slightly as he prepared to putt

(Getty/AFP/File)
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World number one 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 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. But he had to endure a perplexing final few holes after officials informed him at the 12th that he could be penalized 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.

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