While Dustin Johnson was hoisting the trophy Sunday after winning the U.S. Open at Oakmont, the heat was being turned up on the United States Golf Association for how it handled assessing a controversial penalty stroke on the eventual winner.
The USGA released a statement on Monday in which it said it regretted "the distraction caused by our decision to wait until the end of the round to decide on the ruling."
Johnson won his first major, but the final two hours of the tournament were played under the specter of uncertainty.
On the fifth hole with a three-foot putt for par, Johnson grounded his putter as part of his routine. He put his putter behind his ball, which moved ever so slightly.
A USGA rules official determined quickly that Johnson had done nothing to cause the ball to move and Johnson played on without being assessed a penalty.
As he built up a lead over Shane Lowry, another USGA official approached him two hours later while on the 12th tee to say the incident on the fifth green was going to be reviewed.
No penalty was assessed at that time, although the official did say a penalty was still possible. By not making a decision, the USGA opened the door to criticism from many of Johnson's fellow golfers.
"While our focus on getting the ruling correct was appropriate, we created uncertainty about where players stood on the leader board after we informed Dustin on the 12th tee that his actions on the fifth green might lead to a penalty, the USGA said in a statement. "This created unnecessary ambiguity for Dustin and the other players, as well as spectators on-site, and those watching and listening on television and digital channels.
"While we respect the viewpoints of those who disagree, our committee made a careful and collective judgment in pursuit of a fair competition played under the Rules of Golf."
Johnson went on to win the Open by three strokes over Lowry, Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy.