Tasmanian Clint Rice was hauled off Chambers Bay midway through a practice round that was never meant to happen today.
Rice, one of the top alternates for this week’s US Open after shooting 66-69 in qualifying at Springfield, Ohio, last week, was informally told today that he’d be able to play a practice round.
But after playing four holes with 2006 US Open champion and fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy, a USGA official approached Rice and politely, but immediately, stopped him from playing.
His clubs were confiscated and Rice was left to walk the final five holes of the nine he’d intended 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.
And a USGA official later confirmed Rice had been previously given a document clearly stating he had no playing privileges.
Ogilvy said he understood the USGA rules, but that the incident had been a “shame”.
“It’s a bit silly if you’re not holding anybody up or interfering with their practice,” the Victorian 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.
“It’s a shame because we were having a good time and he seemed like a really good bloke.
“What happens if he gets in on Thursday and hasn’t seen the course? He effectively has his chances limited.”
Rice didn’t comment on the matter.