Dustin Johnson is no stranger to run-ins with the Rules of Golf, so perhaps it was only fitting that the two-time winner of the Sentry Tournament of Champions was the first player to run afoul of the rules in 2019.
Following an opening-round 6-under par 67 on the par-73 Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort on Thursday, Johnson faced some struggles to start his second round. A bogey on the second hole was compounded by a mental mistake and two-stroke penalty on the par-4 fourth.
Blowing his drive well left of the fairway and into a hazard of native grass, Johnson proceeded to hit the wrong ball, which under the old rules and new ones results in a two-stroke penalty.
“Obviously (the penalty) was my fault,” Johnson said. “The marshal had it marked, said it went in the hazard right there, and there was a ball right there and it was a TaylorMade. I could see the logo on the side, so I obviously just assumed it was mine. It was way up in the air, so I didn’t want to move anything.”
While the two-stroke penalty under Rule 6-3c(1) is an unchanged portion of the modernized rulebook, there is a new provision in the 2019 version of the rules that could have benefitted Johnson. Players are now permitted, without fear of penalty for moving their ball, to identify their ball in a hazard or penalty area.
“Now understanding the new rule, I gotta identify it,” Johnson said. “If it moves, it’s not a penalty. That won’t ever happen again, I can promise you.”
D. Johnson on his 2-shot penalty for playing the wrong ball on the 4th hole: “I guess now understanding the new rule, I still, I got to identify, if it moves it’s not a penalty. So that won’t ever happen again. I can promise you that,” he said.
— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) January 5, 2019
DJ would go on to bogey the par-4 sixth hole as well to move to 4-over par on his round, but three birdies over the final 10 holes allowed him to mitigate his fall down the leaderboard to a tie for 12th, seven shots back of 36-hole leader Gary Woodland.
His 1-over par 74, however, ended a streak of 32 consecutive rounds of par or better at the Plantation Course. Johnson will play his third round alongside Webb Simpson. They tee off at 9:45 a.m. local, 2:45 p.m. EST.