Bunker Mentality

Golfer loses caddie, and wife, in rough at Senior Open

Bunker Mentality

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Pete Oakley

Warm, wet weather has made the rough particularly brutal at this year's Senior Open Championship at Turnberry.

But nobody expected a golfer to lose his caddie and his wife in it - or to end up with a two-shot penalty for doing so.

That is exactly what happened to 63-year-old Pete Oakley: the former champion lost his caddie - who also happened to be his wife Jennifer - after veering off track on the 13th hole during Friday's second round.

Oakley had asked Jennifer to head down the fairway before he hit on the 13th hole to keep an eye on his ball, in case it veered into the devilish knee-high rough at the famous course in Ayrshire.

It seemed a good idea, as he failed to find the fairway - but though he located his ball in a bunker, his caddie was nowhere to be seen.

She had nipped around the back of a toilet to shelter from the wind, and when she emerged she saw a ball land in thick rough - and assumed it to be her husband's.

In fact, the ball had been hit by a player on the nearby 10th hole. Jennifer joined in the search for it, and it was only after a few minutes that she realised that the golfer searching alongside her was definitely not her husband.

She realised her mistake and hurried back to find Pete, but by the time she got there he was gone: he had wandered back to the tee trying to find her, and by the time they'd eventually been reunited the delay was so long that he was slapped with a two-shot penalty for unduly delaying play.

Not that Pete was too bothered: he was already well over par and certain to miss the cut, and he ended up with a second round of 83.

"As I said to Jennifer, if you were going to do something like that, then today was the right day to do it. I might not have been laughing so much about it if the two-shot penalty had seen me miss the cut," Pete joked, while Jennifer added that "it's the first time in four years that anything like that has happened. Hopefully, it'll be the last time".

European Tour official Andy McFee explained why he'd had to impose the penalty.

"One of our rules officials spotted Pete walking back to the 13th tee. Assuming he had lost his ball, he went to pick him up in his buggy," he said.

"But when he got to him, Pete said: 'I've lost my caddie.'

"Pete stood by the bunker for a good two or three minutes.

"Then he spent a couple of minutes wandering back to the tee, then another good couple of minutes for the rules official to go and get the caddie from the 10th and bring her back. So all in all it was at least seven minutes.

"That's as clear a breach of the undue delay rule as you can get, so a penalty of two strokes was applied. Undue delay penalties are quite rare but incredibly it is the second one we've had in three months."

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