US Open

DJ wins despite late rap

Dustin Johnson celebrating with his son Tatum after winning the US Open at the Oakmont Country Club. The win marks his first Major win after a few near-misses, allowing the American to take himself out of contention for the unceremonious title of "be
Dustin Johnson celebrating with his son Tatum after winning the US Open at the Oakmont Country Club. The win marks his first Major win after a few near-misses, allowing the American to take himself out of contention for the unceremonious title of "best player not to have won a Major".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Contentious penalty does little to break American's stride towards first Major

OAKMONT • Finally, after years of angst, a day of coruscating drama and a moment of madness from the organisers, Dustin Johnson (DJ) won a Major.

In keeping with the American golfer's rise to the top, it was far from untroubled and the US Open flirted with farce and controversy as officials left him with doubts rattling around his head while he played some of the most important holes of his life on Sunday.

He made it with a classy round of 69 to finish at four-under 276. It would have been better but for the one-stroke penalty he incurred.

Ultimately, Shane Lowry's ragged 76 helped the American to victory and the winning margin of three gave the result a look of comfort that he had not felt.

Johnson was on the 12th tee and led by two strokes when officials said they would review a potential penalty after his ball had moved on the fifth hole.

ALL UNDER CONTROL

I knew I was swinging well, and I just kept thinking, 'It's just me and the course.' I'm playing against the course. I can't control what anyone else does.

DUSTIN JOHNSON, US Open champion, on managing his final round at Oakmont.

Jordan Spieth, the outgoing champion, said: "This is a joke." They, like most, felt Johnson had not caused the ball to move.

His situation elicited huge sympathy. It has not always been thus with him.

He returned to the tour last year after reports he had been on hiatus after failing a drug test for cocaine.

He denied that, as did the PGA Tour, but the policy of not naming banned golfers led to nods and winks of innuendo.

It was a great leap forward from Ireland's Lowry, who turned a four-stroke lead into a three-stroke deficit and had to settle for a share of second with Americans Scott Piercy (69) and Jim Furyk (66), as the trio finished on 279. But the Irishman will believe that he can challenge henceforth.

For Johnson this was catharsis.

Last year, he had two putts from 12 feet to force a play-off with Spieth at Chambers Bay.

A suspect bobble, as much as mind, played a part, but it endorsed the reputation of the American as an implosion waiting to happen.

He was also a hole from his maiden Major at the 2010 PGA Championship when he had a one-shot lead at Whistling Straits.

The ensuing bogey would have at least been good enough for a play-off but he grounded his club and a penalty was called.

Earlier that year, he blew a three-stroke final-day lead over Graeme McDowell at the US Open.

Such history meant that it was hard to know what more the USGA could have done to undermine his calm and its competition.

This time, Johnson looked curiously nerveless, a pinpoint approach on the last and ensuing birdie settling all questions.

Plenty of big guns had long been spiked. Rory McIlroy missed his first cut in 10 Majors, Spieth ended up far behind the leaders, Danny Willett broke a putter in anger.

"I've had a lot of opportunities that I didn't quite get done, so this one's definitely really sweet," said Johnson. "I knew I was swinging well, and I just kept thinking, 'It's just me and the course.'

"I'm playing against the course. I can't control what anyone else does. So I just tried to hit golf shots, tried to hit it on the correct side of the hole, and two-putt."

With his victory, Johnson, who turns 32 tomorrow, took himself out of the running for the "best player never to have won a Major" honorarium, leaving Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia to duke it out.

Coming off the 18th green, as he scooped his 18-month-old son Tatum in his arms and embraced his fiancee Paulina Gretzky, the American had no idea whether he would be signing for a 68 or a 69.

He was glad that it did not matter. "Because that would have been bad," he said. "But you know, it worked out."

THE TIMES, LONDON, NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'DJ wins despite late rap'. Print Edition | Subscribe