Lift, clean and cheat

Friday, June 19, 2009

FARMINGDALE, NY — Even before the first drop of rain fell yesterday, the USGA made it clear that the U.S. Open would not implement lift, clean and place under any circumstances.

Not everyone agrees with the USGA’s decision.

Zach Johnson has been one of the more vocal players to express his disappointment.

Said Johnson: “They call it lift, clean and cheat but that’s not the case if everyone is playing it.”

Johnson, who shot a first-round 75, said mud on the ball affected two of his shots today. In some cases, it’s possible that a drive in the fairway with mud on the ball could be more of a penalty than having to hit from the rough.

“There’s an element of luck involved,” Johnson said.

The PGA Tour allows an exception to rule 13 of the Rules of Golf, which compels golfers to play the ball as it lies, when conditions are soft and soggy and mud kicks up in the fairway and sticks to balls.

When asked if he thought the Tour would enforce lift, clean and place if it was administering this week’s tournament, Johnson said: “Absolutely.”