The everyday golfer lives for moments when pros are “just like us.” It’s why a certain segment of fans love to watch the US Open more than any event, because they get to see the best in the world struggle a similar ways as you struggle during your weekend round. On Friday, Zach Johnson provided what may be the greatest “pros, they’re just like us!” moment in recent memory, and it came at one of the sport’s most recognisable stages: the 13th hole at Augusta National.
As he prepared to hit his tee shot at the dogleg par 5, Johnson did his usual pre-shot routine where his driver gets a little too close to the ball, at least that’s how it seems to us mere mortals. For a two-time Major winner, he’s not concerned with accidentally hitting the ball and hearing his three buddies yell “one!”, also known as the most overused joke in the book. Only that’s exactly what Johnson did when he made a practice swing, hitting his ball with the toe of the driver, which caused it to ricochet off the tee marker and bounce a few yards forward. This yielded a hilarious “oh sh–!” from Johnson, which may be the first curse of his career caught on camera:
Luckily for Johnson, the rules actually helped him on this one, and Johnson knew the rule immediately. Because his ball was still not “in play” and on the teeing ground, he is allowed to simply replace it as long as he had no intent to hit the ball. As you can hear in another video below, both of Johnson’s playing partners, Matt Kuchar and Ian Poulter, knew it was unintentional as well:
The rule in question is Rule 6.2b 5. Here’s some context from rules expert Missy Jones:
The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. But a stroke has not been made if the player:
-Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the club head before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
-Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.
Johnson re-teed and ripped one down the middle, then hit his second to 30 feet and two-putted for birdie to get to one under on his round and one over for the tournament, putting him firmly inside the cut line for the time being. Pro golfers, they’re nothing like us!