That’s an amateur mistake
A golfer competing in the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur Championships in Oregon was eliminated on Thursday after losing his match on the final hole—not because of anything he did, though.
Segundo Oliva Pinto was tied with Tyler Strafaci heading into the final hole and put his third shot on the par-5 hole into a greenside bunker. Oliva Pinto could still get up and down to save par but instead automatically forfeited the hole due to the actions of his caddie.
The caddie stepped into the bunker and brushed the sand with his hand. That’s a violation of USGA rule 12.2 (b), which states you must not “deliberately touch sand in the bunker with your hand, a club or rake or any other object to test the condition of the sand and learn information for your next stroke.” The same goes for the player’s caddie, who could relay the information to the player. In stroke play, it’s a two-stroke penalty. In match play, you automatically forfeit the hole. Since Oliva Pinto and Strafaci were tied, the blunder handed the victory to Strafaci.
“As soon as I get back there, the referee comes up and asks my caddie what happened, and I’m completely shocked," Oliva Pinto told the Golf Channel. “I’m just trying to get this shot near [the hole] and try and make an up-and-down and win the match. He touched the sand or something, and that’s a penalty.”
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine reports that Oliva Pinto’s caddie told the rules official, ”I didn’t touch the sand,” and repeated the assertion on the way back to the clubhouse.
The caddie’s infraction was spotted by the caddie for Strafaci, his father, Frank Jr. The younger Strafaci said it was too bad the match had to be decided that way.
“It sucks that it came down to that, because it was a phenomenal match,” he told the Golf Channel.
The Golf Channel identifies Oliva Pinto’s caddie as Brant Brewer, a local caddie at Bandon Dunes, the upscale golf resort with five world-renowned courses where the tournament is being played. It’s shocking that a caddie at a prominent course like that, especially one apparently trusted enough to get such a high-profile assignment, wouldn’t know the rules.
I’ve only ever had two jobs: writing for Sports Illustrated and caddying at a country club. I carried golf bags in Connecticut from eighth grade until I graduated from college and started here, and I’ve actually been in a situation similar to what happened with Oliva Pinto. After a heavy rain storm, I bent down to touch the green to see how much water it had retained. My player’s opponents could have called me on it, but they were just rich guys playing for a couple of bucks per hole, not in the final stages of one of the country’s top amateur competitions.
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