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Anyone who plays golf regularly will tell you there’s nothing worse than being called for a penalty. Taking three shots to get out of a sand trap doesn’t even come close to matching the mental anguish one feels after stupidly not marking a ball properly or unintentionally grounding a club in a hazard. Mental mistakes are soul-crushing, except, of course, if you happen to win by so many shots the lost strokes don’t even matter.
That was the awesome and unusual position PGA Tour pro Zach Johnson found himself in today at the Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. The 2007 Masters Champion was on the eighteenth green about to close out a victory when he moved his mark so his opponent Jason Dufner wouldn’t have to putt over it. When it came time to finish up however, Johnson forgot to move his ball back, accruing an automatic two shot penalty and leaving himself with a must-make five-footer to stay out of a playoff.
Anyone who isn’t a golfing enthusiast likely found the facts of this story unbearably boring, but for those of us who swing the wrenches regularly, today’s final hole was riveting. Luckily for Johnson, he buried the final putt, added the penalty to his total and according to The New York Times, hauled in more than a million dollars for his victory in addition to a great story.
Following the round, he told the media the mistake was clearly his fault but he’d focus on the positives from a great week rather than beat himself up over what could have been had he missed the putt and wound up in a playoff. Here’s to hoping this mix-up doesn’t repeat itself at a time when it might actually matter.