Thursday’s Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur saw one of the most brutal eliminations in the century-old event’s history, as Argentinian amateur Segundo Oliva Pinto was eliminated on the 18th hole due an inexplicable error by his caddie.
On the 18th hole, Oliva Pinto hit a shot into a bunker while all square with American Tyler Strafaci. He never got another shot. Instead, his caddie caused him to forfeit the hole by jumping into the bunker and touching the sand, apparently to test the texture.
That broke Rule 12.2 in the USGA rulebook, which explicitly forbids touching the sand in a bunker before taking a stroke.
U.S. Amateur match ends with caddie error
That mistake cost Oliva Pinto the match and a chance to win golf’s most prestigious amateur title, as well as an invitation to three of the next four majors. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but Oliva Pinto has since done his best to show there are no hard feelings.
Segundo Oliva Pinto forgives caddie
Hours after elimination, Oliva Pinto posted a picture of himself and the caddie, who was assigned to him at the event, on his Instagram story. The golfer called the caddie a “good guy” and “great friend,” saying such an incident could happen to anyone.
Oliva Pinto also apologized for the situation in another post on his story.
“I want to apologize to all my friends and followers,” Oliva Pinto wrote. “This situation was out of my control and there was nothing I could do to prevent it.”
In a subsequent interview with ESPN on Friday, Oliva Pinto said he had called the caddie to discuss the matter:
"He was in tears, heartbroken about what happened," Pinto told ESPN on Friday. "I posted a picture on my Instagram saying it's not his fault, it could happen to anyone. He's not used to playing on the big stage in competitions, so he didn't know the rules."
Oliva Pinto said he was most concerned with the considerable exposure the incident received on social media:
"I told him that if I can forgive him, everyone can forgive him, because I felt bad with the social burden on him with everyone posting on Twitter and Instagram," Pinto said.
"My thought was, 'I want to leave this place like a man,' and I think I did," Pinto said. "There's always something positive about the negative."
That’s all reasonable enough from Oliva Pinto, who also told ESPN he hopes to face off against Strafaci in a one-hole rematch at a later date.
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