2016 US Open: Johnson Gets That First Major Win

Dustin Johnson of the United States celebrates with the winner's trophy alongside Jack Nicklaus after winning the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club on June 19, 2016 in Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Dustin Johnson, with the US Open trophy, gets a hand from Jack Nicklaus, who won on the same course (Oakmont) in 1962. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Dustin Johnson had been in position to win a major before, and didn't get it done - sometimes falling short in odd ways. At the 2016 U.S. Open, Johnson did get it done. But not without another odd incident.

Quick Bits

  • Winner: Dustin Johnson, 276
  • Dates: June 16-19, 2016
  • Golf course: Oakmont Country Club
  • U.S. Open number: This was the 116th time the championship was played.

How Dustin Johnson Earned the Trophy

Johnson played well through three rounds, shooting 67, 69 and 71. But it was Irishman Shane Lowry who led by four strokes over Johnson and Andrew Landry entering the final round.

Johnson had two birdies and a bogey on the front nine, but Lowry carded no birdies and three bogeys on his first nine of the final round.

By the time Johnson reached the 12th tee, he was in the lead. But that's when a USGA official informed Johnson that rules officials would speak with him after the round about an incident that happened on the fifth green. The implication was that a penalty stroke might be applied - but nobody, not Johnson nor his competitors, would know until after the round.

That meant the leaders had to play the final holes not knowing for sure what Johnson's score was.

And it also brought to mind several of Johnson's failures at previous majors when he had been in position to win:

  • At the 2010 U.S. Open, Johnson led by three going into the final round, then shot 82.
  • At the 2010 PGA Championship, Johnson led by one when he teed off his final hole. A bogey appeared to drop him into a playoff, until rules officials gave him a 2-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker on that final hole.
  • At the 2015 U.S. Open, Johnson was tied for the lead as the final round began, and trailed by one as he played the final hole. He had a 12-footer for eagle that would have won him the tournament, but missed it - then also missed the 3-foot birdie putt and finished second.

What happened on that fifth green? Johnson, after taking several quick practice strokes next to the ball, lifted his putter and was placing it behind the ball, when the ball moved. There was no indication (even on high-definition replays) that Johnson touched the ball. And Johnson immediately called over a rules official. After conferring with Johnson at the scene, that official ruled there was no infraction. But officials reviewing the incident on tape thought a penalty might be necessary because, in their view, there was no other plausible cause for the ball's movement other than something Johnson had done.

Many of the golfers on the leaderboard seemed affected by the uncertainty of the possible penalty to Johnson hanging over the proceedings. Or maybe it was just the typical U.S. Open pressure.

Either way, Johnson bogeyed the 14th. Lowry bogeyed the 14th, 15th and 16th. Jason Day, playing well ahead of the leaders, mounted a charge before sputtering late. Sergio Garcia was in the mix deep into the final round, but had his own string of three consecutive late birdies. Scott Piercy got within one before bogeys on 16 and 18.

When Johnson reached the 18th tee, he led by three. Then he pounded a massive drive down the middle, hit a beauty of an approach to just a few feet from the cup, and rolled in the closing birdie putt.

He finally had that elusive major, and his 10th overall PGA Tour victory. Following the round, the USGA did assess the 1-stroke penalty, but Johnson's margin of victory made that academic.

After shooting 76, Lowry wound up tied with Piercy and Jim Furyk for second place. Lowry was the first golfer since Payne Stewart at the 1998 U.S. Open to start the final round leading by four or more and fail to win.

2016 U.S. Open Scores

Results from the 2016 U.S. Open golf tournament played at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. (a-amateur):

Dustin Johnson 67-69-71-69--276 $1,800,000
Scott Piercy 68-70-72-69--279 $745,270
Jim Furyk 71-68-74-66--279 $745,270
Shane Lowry 68-70-65-76--279 $745,270
Branden Grace 73-70-66-71--280 $374,395
Sergio Garcia 68-70-72-70--280 $374,395
Kevin Na 75-68-69-69--281 $313,349
Daniel Summerhays 74-65-69-74--282 $247,806
Jason Day 76-69-66-71--282 $247,806
Zach Johnson 71-69-71-71--282 $247,806
Jason Dufner 73-71-68-70--282 $247,806
David Lingmerth 72-69-75-67--283 $201,216
Kevin Streelman 69-74-69-72--284 $180,298
Brooks Koepka 75-69-72-68--284 $180,298
Bryson DeChambeau 71-70-70-74--285 $152,234
Andrew Landry 66-71-70-78--285 $152,234
Brendan Steele 71-71-70-73--285 $152,234
Sung Kang 70-72-70-74--286 $120,978
Adam Scott 71-69-72-74--286 $120,978
Gregory Bourdy 71-67-75-73--286 $120,978
Graeme McDowell 72-71-71-72--286 $120,978
Marc Leishman 71-69-77-69--286 $120,978
Derek Fathauer 73-69-70-75--287 $82,890
Charl Schwartzel 76-68-69-74--287 $82,890
Yusaku Miyazato 73-69-71-74--287 $82,890
Louis Oosthuizen 75-65-74-73--287 $82,890
Russell Knox 70-71-73-73--287 $82,890
Andy Sullivan 71-68-75-73--287 $82,890
Chris Wood 75-70-71-71--287 $82,890
Byeong-Hun An 74-70-73-70--287 $82,890
a-Jon Rahm 76-69-72-70--287
Billy Horschel 72-74-66-76--288 $61,197
Rafael Cabrera-Bello 74-70-69-75--288 $61,197
Justin Thomas 73-69-73-73--288 $61,197
Ryan Moore 74-72-72-70--288 $61,197
Lee Westwood 67-72-69-80--288 $61,197
Daniel Berger 70-72-70-77--289 $46,170
Harris English 70-71-72-76--289 $46,170
Jordan Spieth 72-72-70-75--289 $46,170
Jason Kokrak 71-70-74-74--289 $46,170
Rob Oppenheim 72-72-72-73--289 $46,170
Charley Hoffman 72-74-70-73--289 $46,170
Danny Willett 75-70-73-71--289 $46,170
Martin Kaymer 73-73-72-71--289 $46,170
Angel Cabrera 70-76-72-71--289 $46,170
Patrick Rodgers 73-72-68-77--290 $34,430
Matt Kuchar 71-72-71-76--290 $34,430
Matteo Manassero 76-70-71-73--290 $34,430
Kevin Kisner 73-71-71-76--291 $30,241
James Hahn 73-71-75-72--291 $30,241
Bubba Watson 69-76-72-75--292 $27,694
Bill Haas 76-69-73-74--292 $27,694
Hideto Tanihara 70-76-74-72--292 $27,694
Emiliano Grillo 73-70-75-75--293 $26,066
Andrew Johnston 75-69-75-74--293 $26,066
Matthew Fitzpatrick 73-70-79-71--293 $26,066
Lee Slattery 72-68-78-76--294 $25,131
Danny Lee 69-77-74-74--294 $25,131
Cameron Smith 71-75-70-79--295 $24,525
Brandon Harkins 71-74-73-77--295 $24,525
Matt Marshall 72-73-75-76--296 $24,525
Tim Wilkinson 71-75-75-75--296 $24,525
Romain Wattel 71-75-75-76--297 $23,497
Chase Parker 75-70-72-81--298 $23,203
Spencer Levin 73-72-77-77--299 $22,762
Ethan Tracy 73-70-79-77--299 $22,762
Justin Hicks 73-72-78-81--304 $22,762