Joel Dahmen shares his side of the controversial Sung Kang rules incident (and the aftermath)
Passionate members of golf twitter know Joel Dahmen for being one of the most outspoken, uncensored pros on the PGA Tour. They’ve seen his bombastic, often hilarious perspective chiming in on everything from dishwasher repair to gaming. But it was Dahmen’s reputation that made his starring role in Sung Kang’s controversial rules incident even more peculiar.
On the newest episode of GOLF’s Subpar, Dahmen told his side of the incident with hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz. It all began on the 10th hole during the final round of the 2018 Quicken Loans National. Kang’s approach into the 566-yard par-5 flew left of the green and into the hazard.
In Dahmen’s eyes, Kang’s ball flight meant his shot had to have entered the hazard a considerable distance from the green. In other words, Kang would have to drop from the fairway, then hit a lengthy approach into the green.
“He wanted to drop up by the green and I said, ‘no, I don’t think it crossed [the hazard],'” Dahmen said. “I went very political about the whole thing, you’ve got to protect the field. I don’t want to do this, you know. That was the first five minutes.”
In Dahmen’s recounting, things quickly devolved from there.
“I got him to agree his ball didn’t draw. I go, ‘if you hit from back there and your ball didn’t draw, it couldn’t have crossed,'” Dahmen recalled. “We had a rules official come over 15 minutes later, and he was like ‘what do you think?’ and I go ‘I know that it didn’t cross here, I don’t feel comfortable with it, he’s got to go back.”
Dahmen and Kang were then forced to let the groups behind them play through while PGA Tour rules officials attempted to figure out the situation. Nearly 25 minutes later, the pair got a decision: since no rules official had witnessed the shot, they were forced to defer to Kang’s argument. Kang hit his approach from 40 yards out in the fairway, made the putt, and went on to finish T-3.
Dahmen was furious, and it didn’t take long before he shared his displeasure on Twitter.
A few weeks after the event, Kang confronted Dahmen at the Canadian Open.
“He goes, ‘Joel, I want you to apologize to me,'” Dahmen said. “I said, ‘apologize to me? Look around, you should apologize to everybody else in that field. You took money from them, you did all this stuff.'”
“I just said, ‘You did this to yourself, I didn’t do this,” Dahmen said. “Either way this was getting out. I just accelerated it.”
Neither player wound up receiving an apology, and unsurprisingly, Dahmen and Kang don’t exactly have a jocular relationship.
“It was back and forth for five minutes,” Dahmen said. “We have not spoken since.
Two years later, Dahmen hopes his controversial afternoon at TPC Potomac set the right example for his fellow Tour pros.
“It was interesting but honestly, I think it started a new thing of being more aware of this and maybe standing up to it more,” he said.