Australian golfer Clint Rice had his clubs confiscated while attempting a US Open practice round.
Ranked No.1188 in the world, Rice is one of the top alternates – reserves – for this week’s Open after shooting 66-69 in qualifying in Ohio, and he was informally told he’d be able to play a practice round on the Chambers Bay course.
But after playing four holes with 2006 US Open champion and fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy on Tuesday, a USGA official approached Rice and politely, but immediately, stopped him from playing.
His clubs were taken away and the 34-year-old Tasmanian was left to walk the final five holes of the nine he’d intended to play in conversation only with Ogilvy.
USGA rules state that alternates can use all the practice facilities, but are not allowed to play on the course proper.
A USGA official later confirmed Rice had been previously given a document which stating that he had no playing privileges.
Ogilvy said he understood the USGA rules, but that the incident was a shame.
“It’s a bit silly if you’re not holding anybody up or interfering with their practice,” Ogilvy said.
“I’d get it if there were no spots available for players in the field. But this wasn’t the case here.
“I was playing on my own in the afternoon and he just asked if he could play with me and, of course, I said yes.
“I get where the USGA is coming from, but surely the top few alternates should be able to play.
“What happens if he gets in on Thursday and hasn’t seen the course? He effectively has his chances limited.
“It’s a shame because we were having a good time and he seemed like a really good bloke.
Rice didn’t comment on the matter.