Caddie’s bunker blunder ends Oliva Pinto’s US Amateur campaign

Segundo Oliva Pinto’s US Amateur hopes were dealt a fatal blow after his caddie was found to have tested the sand in a bunker at Bandon Dunes

Imagine a week’s hard work coming to an end for something so stupid. Segundo Oliva Pinto had grafted hard at the US Amateur and his last 16 tie with Tyler Strafaci at Bandon Dunes had reached the final hole tied – only for his challenge to come to an end in a greenside bunker.

All because of a moment of madness from his caddie.

Oliva Pinto was preparing to hit his fourth out of the sand at the par 5 closer when his bag man – named as local looper Brant Brewer – walked into the trap, bent down, and started brushing the sand with his fingers.

It was reported that Strafaci’s father and caddie saw it and called over a rules official.

Brewer is said to have denied he’d done anything wrong but TV footage showed him in the sand and the official decided he had breached Rule 12.2b.

That Rule – Restrictions on Touching Sand in Bunker – says a player must not “deliberately touch sand in the bunker with a hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn information for the next stroke”.

A player is responsible for his or her caddie’s actions and Rule 10.3c states that “if the caddie’s action breaches a Rule or would breach a Rule if the action was taken by the player, the player gets the penalty under that Rule”.

The outcome was the general penalty, which in match play means loss of hole. Oliva Pinto’s challenge was over.

The 20-year-old Argentinian, who is a junior at UNC Wilmington, took the situation with a huge amount of grace.

“Regarding what happened, I wasn’t looking at it,” he said. “I was just near the flag trying to get a good read of where I wanted the ball to bounce.

“As soon as I get back there, the referee comes up and asks my caddie what happened. I’m completely shocked. I am just trying to get this shot near, try and make an up and down, and win the match.

“Probably, he touched the sand, or something, and that’s a penalty. It’s a hole and the match ended there.”

Oliva Pinto added: “He (caddie) didn’t say anything but, at this point, it doesn’t really matter. What happened, happened. He can say anything and it won’t change it.”

Have you ever seen a Rules blunder like this one? Have your say in the comments, or tweet me.

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