Dustin Johnson conceded he “got a break” en route to victory at the WGC-Mexico after a contentious path ruling went in his favour.
The American claimed a five-shot victory at Club de Golf Chapultepec on Sunday, holding off the final-round challenge of Rory McIlroy.
However, he had some help at the fifth hole, the American receiving a drop after sending his drive to the base of a tree, with relief coming his way after it was ruled his stance to play the shot would have touched the cart path.
Johnson broke no rules but some felt his demonstration of his stance was exaggerated, and fuel was added to the fire when McIlroy was not granted relief at the sixth.
McIlroy ended up stuck behind a tree next to a cart path after his drive and rules official Mike Stewart adjudged the shot the Northern Irishman sought to play with a foot on the path would have struck a tree root.
He was consequently forced to play his second shot left-handed and bogeyed the par-five hole, Johnson going on to win for the first time since July’s Canadian Open and accepting fortune was on his side.
“I got a break there and ended up making a nice par,” Johnson said. “That’s why I called the rules official over, just because you almost felt a little bad about it.
One left-handed shot.
One shot in the water.
A bogey for Rory McIlroy.
He’s in 2nd place, but now 5 back. pic.twitter.com/CPBfxFc5PC
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 24, 2019
“But it was the only way I could play the shot. I even tried to get really close to it and I was still standing on the path, so I was entitled to relief and sometimes the rules work to your advantage.”
Asked for his opinion on the episode, McIlroy said: “I accepted my ruling and moved on, I didn’t ask for a second opinion.
“I knew what happened with Dustin, I can’t control that.
“If the official thought it was reasonable for Dustin to take the drop but not me, then so be it. That’s why we have referees. I could see where he was coming from.
“When you have a four-shot lead and go out there to shoot five-under, you’re not going to get beaten.”