Rising junior star loses match after caddie accepts short ride in cart

August 16, 2018

The biggest event in amateur golf takes place this week at Pebble Beach, and it just wouldn’t be golf if there weren’t a rules infraction. In the first round of match play, we got just that.

During his match against Bradford Tilley, rising star Akshay Bhatia incurred a penalty when his caddie, Chris Darnell, accepted a short ride to the green from who he thought was a USGA official. That is against the Rules.

According to Ryan Lavner from Golf Channel, while on the par-5 14th, Darnell — who had taken a bathroom break — saw a cart driver wearing USGA apparel, but that person was merely a volunteer. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes,” Darnell told Lavner. “So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

Akshay Bhatia amateur golf
Akshay Bhatia approaches the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Wednesday.
USGA

Bhatia went on to birdie the hole to presumably move 1 up, but an adjustment penalty was made and the match remained all square. He would lose the match on the 19th hole just a short while later.

It’s a rule that we’ve seen enacted in the past, even as recently as 2005 on the professional level with Eduardo Molinari. If only it were that simple.

This story takes a slightly devious route, as Darnell claimed the opposing caddie did something similar on the 9th hole. You can check out the entire report from Lavner here.