U.S. Open: Five bold predictions

Dustin Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Dustin Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 6

Embed from Getty Images

Prediction: A player among the top 20 in the field will commit a Rules violation that could change the outcome of the 117th U.S. Open.

Would it really be a valid golf tournament if we didn’t have some kind of encounter with the Rules of Golf? I’ve found that high stakes tend to fuel heightened attention to the game’s rules, so I’m looking for some kind of high-stakes violation.

Putting aside the possibility that some fan watching the 177th U.S. Open from the comfort of a sofa on a personal HD television will see a violation the Erin Hills on-course officials miss – the USGA and the R&A have more or less taken that option off the table – the Rules as written are still in place.

Ernie Els isn’t the first player to call a violation on himself and he won’t be the last.  The game of golf has an unusual quality – it inspires and demands honorable behavior among competitors and for the most part the game lifts even the most viciously competitive among us to a new level of civility.  We pause play to help hunt lost balls, we mark our balls and move our marks so they don’t disrupt our opponent’s visual putt line. Most of us stand still and don’t talk while others are taking their shots.

All this is to say that while we aren’t adverse to using the Rules to our advantage, most golfers don’t intentionally violate the Rules of Golf.  Still, violations do happen and penalties will follow. At the 117th U.S. Open there will be a substantive violation among the top of the field.