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Rules violation nearly overshadows Zach Johnson’s Colonial victory

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Zach Johnson / Getty Images

Fort Worth, Texas — It was supposed to be a Sunday stroll down the 18th fairway for Zach Johnson. Up three shots over Jason Dufner with his ball sitting in the greenside bunker, all one of the best short game players on the PGA Tour had to do was avoid leaving it in the sand and he'd be the Crowne Plaza Invitational champion.

Well, he did exactly that, getting out of the sand before holing the putt for par to win by three. Or so he thought. As Johnson was leaving the green, he was informed by PGA Tour rules officials that he'd violated 20-7 of the Rules of Golf.

After blasting his ball to within a couple feet of the hole, Johnson moved his ball mark in an attempt to give Dufner a clear path. But in the process of moving the mark, Johnson forgot to replace it to its original spot.

[Also: Luke Donald repeats at Wentworth, regains No. 1 world ranking]

"I moved my mark, but I did not move it back," Johnson admitted after his round. "I told Damon on the five- or six-footer that I just wanted to hit a great putt. And I hit a great putt. I guess fortunately it went in ... I don't know. I guess if I would've missed it it would've been ... I don't know what would've happened. I just feel very lucky. That's all. As I said earlier there are a number of adjectives that I'm calling myself right now, and lucky is the biggest one I can think of."

Johnson also mentioned that his caddie, Damon Green, was raking the bunker at the time and had no idea what had transpired on the green.

"[Damon Green] didn't even see me move [my mark]," Johnson said. "If he would've saw me move it, he's in-tune enough to say something."

Luckily, he had a three-shot cushion at the time -- Johnson admitted he had to think about how many shots he won by when he was informed of the violation -- which meant that after the two-stroke penalty he still won by a single shot. We've seen some bizarre rules situations this year (we're looking at you, Tiger Woods), but this one had the potential to go right up there with some of the worst of all-time.

Luckily for Johnson, it ended up being nothing more than a footnote in the tournament's history. And to think, Roberto De Vicenzo and Dustin Johnson were this close to getting a new bunkmate.

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