Caddie blunder leads to crushing U.S. Amateur loss for Segundo Oliva Pinto

Segundo Oliva Pinto (left) lost his Round of 16 match at the U.S. Amateur on Thursday evening when his caddie tested the surface of a bunker resulting in an automatic loss of hole on No. 18.

Argentina’s Segundo Oliva Pinto suffered as heartbreaking a loss as you’ll ever see in golf at the U.S. Amateur in the Round of 16 on Thursday evening and none of it was his doing.

Instead, it was a blunder from Oliva Pinto’s caddie that allowed American Tyler Strafaci to win the match 1 up and advance.

Oliva Pinto squared the match on the 16th hole at Bandon Dunes with a birdie. Both players parred 17, sending the match to the 18th hole.

Oliva Pinto hit his approach into a greenside bunker.

That’s where things got crazy. Oliva Pinto stepped into the bunker to check out his lie. He then exited the bunker to go get a look at the green. While doing that, his caddie inexplicably walked into the bunker and touched the sand. That resulted in an automatic loss of hole for Oliva Pinto due to his caddie “testing the surface.”

Here’s the USGA rule on testing the surface:

Restrictions on Touching Sand in Bunker

When Touching Sand Results in Penalty. Before making a stroke at a ball in a bunker, 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, or
  • Touch sand in the bunker with a club:
    • In the area right in front of or right behind the ball (except as allowed under Rule 7.1a in fairly searching for a ball or under Rule 12.2a in removing a loose impediment or movable obstruction),
    • In making a practice swing, or
    • In making the backswing for a stroke.

The caddie — a local from Bandon Dunes named Brant Brewer — denied touching the sand, but the video evidence clearly shows otherwise.

Here’s how it went down:

Class response from Oliva Pinto:

Here’s some reaction from PGA Tour caddies who saw the infraction:

COMMENTS

  1. Everyone knows it was a mistake. No one knows more than Brant. He is devastated. He should not be devastated. One mistake in a game of golf should not ruin a guys life. I know him. I know the story. I was behind the green on 18 when it happened. The reason he kept saying he didn’t touch the sand is because there is no sand right there. Yesterday, the day after the incident there is plenty of sand. He didn’t understand the term “testing the sand”, because there was no sand. I can understand the misunderstanding. Would I have done that? I hope the hell not. Just like he wishes he didn’t. Look, I am a caddie at Bandon. I was a PGA Member. I played on the Asian Tour and the mini tours. So I know what I’m doing. But, I didn’t caddie in the Am as well as Brant did. My player missed the cut. In fact my players in the four-ball last year didn’t make the cut. My player in the Mid-Am didn’t make the cut. Brant’s player made the cut and made it all the way to the 18th hole of the match in the final 16. He did a great job before making one final mistake. To the best of my knowledge, every USGA event prior to this US Am had a USGA rules seminar for us local caddies. Because of COVID, that did not happen this time. Caddying at a resort can get the rules all messed up in your head. Not only did the rules change dramatically in 2019, but because of COVID, I hadn’t touched a flag since March until this event. I hadn’t been in a bunker let alone raked one since March until this event. The rules were sent to us via email. There was no rules sheet on the first tee because of COVID. Most of the emails sent to us about rules addressed yardage measuring devices and pace of play. There was one mention on a document about not touching the sand in the bunker, and normally that would have been on the first tee everyday. We all know there would never be a need for rules seminars if people read the entire rules book. They would just hand us a rules book on the first tee and say, “Read this, these are the rules.” But we all know most people don’t read the rule book. Should Brant have known that rule? Yes! But, had there been no COVID where we have these don’t touch the flag and no rakes in the bunker, and a normal in person rules seminar with a rules sheet. In my opinion, this would have never happened. There is no blame to pass here. It just happened. This man is a great and enthusiastic caddie. I hope he caddies on Tour for Segundo someday. It would be a great opportunity for Brant’s self redemption. He deserves it. We have three former caddies from Bandon caddying on Tour right now. I believe there are others on the Champions Tour as well. It’s a great training ground. We all stand by this caddie program and Brant!

    1. Terrific post and explanation, Jason. Years ago I played at Bandon Dunes, OR and recall spending quite a few holes digging my heels into the sand before addressing the ball.
      I never patted the sand before or after raking.🏖 🏌🏻

      1. Well said Coffee. You don’t usually need to pat the sand after your shot to test it. In the wind here the player and caddie both get to taste it after the shot. Anyway, we are back to being spoiled here by going back to gimmes, lateral drops from the gorse, max net doubles, beer drinking, improving the lie, no live national coverage watching our every move, no covid tests, no living in the bubble, no daily health questions and temperature checks, no background checks, no green reading books, no yardage books in meters, no 14 club limit, no one ball rule, no parents and coaches watching, no career making reads, no more, “Can I reach that bunker at 357yards?”, “Can I carry that bunker at 320yards?”, no more see you on the range 1 hour before t-time.

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