Dustin Johnson was assessed the first PGA Tour penalty strokes of the year on Friday in the second round of the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
However, none of the numerous new Rules of Golf precipitated Johnson’s penalty. He was penalized when he hit the wrong ball from a hazard on the par-4 fourth hole at Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course.
According to Golf Channel, Johnson received bad information from a volunteer marshal as to where his ball was in the hazard. Johnson then played the ball he found. Once he realized his error, he learned his ball was approximately 10 yards closer to the hole than the marshal suggested. Unfortunately, under the Rules of Golf — the immediately prior version and the present — a golfer is penalized two strokes when hitting the wrong ball.
Johnson asked a PGA Tour rules official if he could avoid penalty by playing his original ball once he found it. He could not. However, under the Rules of Golf before 2008 (the Rules are changed in four-year cycles that trail Presidential elections by a year), players were not penalized for hitting the wrong ball from a hazard.
Ultimately, Johnson made a double-bogey 6 and dropped at that point to 3 over par on his round after an opening 6-under 67.