Dustin Johnson's bunker fiasco reminds Stuart Appleby's caddie of 2004 PGA Championship penalty

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Dustin Johnson, David Price

Dustin Johnson (l.), walking with rules official David Price on the 18th hole, is assessed two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker.

Joe Damiano was watching the fourth round of the PGA from his home in Point Pleasant. His regular man on the PGA Tour, Robert Allenby, was injured so the caddie was off for the week.

Instantly, though, he was transported to Whistling Straits.

When Dustin Johnson ran afoul of that bunker on the 18th hole, Damiano felt his pain. It happened to him and Stuart Appleby at the 2004 PGA at Whistling Straits. Now Damiano treats every piece of sand he encounters as a bunker.

"Absolutely," he said by phone the other day. "As far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as a waste area on any golf course any more. Not after that mess."

"That mess" cost Appleby four shots on the 16th hole during the third round of the '04 PGA at Whistling Straits. Appleby had birdied four of the previous five holes and was on his way to the clubhouse lead when he shoved his drive into sand outside the ropes to the right.

"That year, they had changed the rule during the week," Damiano said, noting they saw people in lawn chairs in one sand trap behind the 10th hole. "At some point they were waste areas and at other times they were bunkers.

"When Stuie did it, he said to me, 'Is this a waste area?' I said, 'Stuart, it was yesterday. I don't know.' And then he picked up a piece of grass and played his shot."

Appleby and Damiano had no idea that the father of Appleby's playing partner, Englishman Scott Drummond, was standing right there and alerted his son. Drummond told a rules official right then and when Appleby got inside the scoring area, he was told he was being assessed two shots for picking up the grass and two shots for grounding his club. His par five turned into a nine.

"I was so mad, I ran out of the scoring tent," Damiano said. "I was yelling at that same guy, (PGA official) Mark Wilson. They wouldn't let me get a word in and I ran off and then I came back and Stuart and his coach was on the range. And he said, 'I didn't expect to see you until tomorrow and I said, 'I'm over it now.' But it just didn't seem fair."

Appleby, though, like Johnson, hadn't read the rules sheet.

"Obviously it was sand and it was a bunker, but you have 30,000 people walking through there. I just don't understand how it becomes part of the golf course," he said at the time. "But talk about saving shots. I could have saved four by reading a piece of paper at the start of the week."

As he watched Johnson on TV, Damiano admitted he didn't think the area looked like a bunker.

"There were people's shadows in the way so you couldn't tell. It just looked like a sandy area in the rough," he said.

Still, Damiano says the blame lies in only one place.

"The blame lies only on the caddie and the player," he said. "I don't know where (caddie) Bobby Brown was on that. When you work for a guy, you have to make sure you know everything because he may not read everything. The rules sheet is on the first tee. I always take one.

"Especially in that situation," Damiano said. "I could see if you were 70th."

Next time, they'll know. Damiano does now.


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