Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PRO GOLF ; It's a Sand Trap! Watch out for Whistling's Bunkers

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PRO GOLF ; It's a Sand Trap! Watch out for Whistling's Bunkers

Article excerpt

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - Perhaps the shiftiest sand trap in recent major history is now covered up by a hospitality area. The "Dustin Johnson bunker will be a memory when the PGA Championship returns this week to Whistling Straits in Wisconsin for the first time in five years.

But countless other sandy areas at the links-style course overlooking Lake Michigan remain hazards - or are they?

"I think the players are much more aware of what they can and cannot do in sandy areas, Rory McIlroy said during a visit to the course in June.

Not knowing the rule proved damaging for Johnson in 2010.

He was assessed a two-shot penalty on the final hole after grounding his 4-iron in the sand to the way right of the fairway, not aware he was in a bunker. He had a one-shot lead when he teed off from the 18th hole.

Johnson missed a 7-foot par putt to slip into a playoff - until he learned he had let his club touch the sand during his pre-shot routine. The two added shots dropped him to fifth.

"I won't be grounding my club anywhere if I miss the fairway, that's for sure. I just missed the memo where all sand is deemed a bunker, Johnson said last week.

Johnson has said he didn't look at the rules sheet that had been posted all week in the locker room and on the first tee. Every bunker, the rules stated, was a hazard, even if outside the ropes where the gallery had been standing.

The confusion is understandable. Johnson has recounted how - in addition to fans standing there - he saw a Gatorade bottle and a beer can in the bunker.

As with both the 2004 and 2010 PGA championships at Whistling, all sand will be considered bunkers.

"All areas of the course that were designed and built as bunkers, filled with sand, will be played as bunkers (hazards) whether or not they have been raked, the PGA said in a notice to competitors ahead of this week's championship.

"This will mean that many bunkers positioned outside of the ropes, as well as some areas of bunkers inside the ropes, close to the rope line, will likely include numerous footprints, heel prints, trash and tire tracks during the play of the Championship.

Such irregularities were "part of the game, the PGA said, "and no free relief will be available from these conditions. …

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