Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald hit out at the US Golf Association [USGA] after leading amateur Gordon Sargent saw a putt at the US Open amazingly bounce out of the hole.
Sargent’s par attempt from two feet on the 18th hole in Sunday’s final round was struck perfectly into the centre of the cup, but leapt back out on to the green.
The 20-year-old was still guaranteed to finish as the leading amateur following a 69 which left him four over par, but European Ryder Cup captain Donald was not impressed with the tournament organisers.
“This is unacceptable! Does the @USGA go fix this mid round? This should never happen,” Donald wrote on Twitter.
Donald was far from the only one shocked at what he saw on the 18th green. Former Masters winner and broadcast analyst Trevor Immelman questioned if the cup was “not deep enough on 18?”, while former Ryder Cup player and six-time PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan asked: “What just happened to Sargent????? How could that happen?!”
Mahan also questioned what “if that costs someone in the final group???”, with Sargent reaching the final hole hours before the leaders were due to arrive.
The USGA said the bizarre situation had been caused by the hole being damaged by a player or caddie in the previous group of Ryan Gerard and Mackenzie Hughes. The group reportedly had trouble removing the flag from the hole, and the additional force is likely to have dislodged the cup that caused a lip to emerge – which Sargent’s ball then bounced off of.
A USGA spokesperson said: “A member of the group ahead inadvertently adjusted the hole liner when removing the flagstick. Unfortunately, we were not informed of any damage. It has since been adjusted back into place.”
Thankfully, the additional shot did not impact Sargent, who still finished as the lowest amateur and did not miss out on any prize money as only professionals are entitled to take winnings from the majors.
“You probably saw what happened on 18,” Sargent said after his round. “I had like a two-and-a-half footer straight up the hill that hit the back of the hole and just bounced right back to me. Haven’t seen that happen in a while, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”