- Associated Press - Monday, August 16, 2010

SHEBOYGAN, WIS. (AP) - Few things make a major championship more memorable than a playoff.

This one will be remembered for the guy who wasn’t there.

Martin Kaymer’s name is forever in the record books as the winner of the PGA Championship. But it’s Dustin Johnson whose story will be the tournament’s defining memory.

“I think it’s very sad,” Kaymer said. “To see that he didn’t have a chance to win a major, or to win a golf tournament … it’s very sad to see. I don’t know what to say.”

Johnson was knocked out of Sunday’s playoff because of a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker he figured for a footpath. A tiny patch of sand well behind the ropes on the 18th fairway that spectators had trampled over all week. A rules violation he never thought was at issue.

“Never once did it cross my mind it was in a sand trap,” Johnson said.

But rules are rules, and never moreso than in the honorable game of golf. This, after all, is a game where the athletes call fouls on themselves.

And this one was posted for everyone to see _ in the locker room and on every tee box.

“Honestly, I don’t think anyone reads the sheets,” said Nick Watney, Johnson’s playing partner. “I mean, we’ve played in hundreds of tournaments, we get a sheet every week.”

But ignorance is no excuse. Not that Johnson tried to make one.

Already showered and dressed in his street clothes before Kaymer and Bubba Watson had finished the first of their three playoff holes, Johnson said he had grounded his club. He didn’t even bother taking rules officials up on their offer to go to the TV truck and study a high-resolution replay.

“I guess,” Johnson said, “maybe I should have looked at the rules sheet a little harder.”

Whistling Straits is designed to mimic an old-style links course, with more bunkers than you can count _ literally. Not even architect Pete Dye knows how many there are. Anytime the grounds crew trims the fescue, another emerges. The PGA of America decided back in 2004 that every bunker is a hazard, no matter how many fans tromp through it, and players were reminded of it this week.

When the PGA Championship was at Whistling Straits six years ago, Stuart Appleby was assessed a four-stroke penalty for a similar violation. The PGA returns to Whistling Straits in 2015, and Appleby said Sunday night on Twitter that changes must be made to the course “that has hundreds of pointless bunkers that patrons have to walk through to view players. … Try that at Augusta.”

“I’m very … angered that this is the way the 2010 PGA came to an end,” he said.

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