Great Britain & Ireland took three of four points in the opening session of the Walker Cup on Saturday at Royal Aberdeen. Because of an obscure rule, though, the matches should have been even because of a caddie.
In the match putting U.S. Amateur winner Kelly Kraft and University of Georgia standout Russell Henley against Andy Sullivan and Jack Senior, Senior violated a rule of the competition by having his brother caddie for him. As Golfweek reported, Joe Senior is a professional golfer in his own right. A condition of competition in the matches bans the participants from having professionals caddie for them, so GB&I should have lost the match.
Unfortunately for the Americans, Joe Senior’s professional status was not discovered until after the GB&I team won the match 2 and 1. Under the Rules of Golf, the penalty cannot be applied because the result had already been announced – similar to a rule unable to be applied retroactively after a tournament ends.
“We were alerted to the fact that Jack Senior’s caddie may be a professional golfer after the match had finished,” explained R&A chief executive Peter Dawson. “We verified with Jack that was in fact the case. There is a condition of competition of the Walker Cup that professional golfers should not caddie.
“The breach of that condition was discovered after the match had finished. Had it been discovered during the match, an adjustment to the state of the match would have had to have been made and the caddie would have had to have been changed mid-round. But because it wasn’t discovered until after the result had been officially declared, the rules of golf say that the result should stand, and the result does stand and it remains 3-1 to Great Britain & Ireland.”
Joe Senior will not caddie for his brother in the remaining sessions, but the incident may spur a change in the condition of competition in future matches.