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.”
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.