2023 Masters: Brooks Koepka’s caddie absolved of rules violation by Masters Tournament Committee. Here’s why

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Brooks Koepka’s opening-round 65 on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club and share of the lead will stand after the Masters Tournament Committee ruled that his caddie, Ricky Elliott didn’t violate Rule 10-2a.

On the par-5 15th hole, Koepka and Gary Woodland hit their tee shots to the same general area, but Koepka was away. Video of the hole showed Koepka hit his second and hand his club back Elliott. As he stuck the club back in the bag and grab Koepka’s putter, Elliott appeared to say “five” in the direction of Woodland’s caddie – Brennan Little – before Woodland hit his second shot.

Did he reveal to Woodland’s caddie that Koepka had hit a 5-iron? The video evidence sure seems to indicate a breach of the rules by Elliott, who has been on the bag for all four of Koepka’s major championship wins and followed his boss to LIV Golf last summer.

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According to Rule 10-2a, during a round a player must not:

Give advice to anyone in the competition who is playing on the course
Ask anyone for advice, other than the player’s caddie, or
Touch another player’s equipment to learn information that would be advice if given by or asked of the other player
Penalty for breach of rule: two strokes

If you go back and watch on the “Holes 15 and 16” feed, it looks like Koepka’s caddie says “5” to Woodland’s caddie after Brooks’ 2nd shot.

Which, at first glance, looked like he was saying that Brooks hit 5-iron (Woodland had not hit yet). https://t.co/hd2yctOqDC

— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) April 6, 2023

If Koepka’s caddie, who is considered an extension of his player, was found in violation of the rule, Koepka’s 65 would have been turned into a 67. The Masters Tournament Committee released the following notice after the completion of play: “Following the completion of Brooks Koepka’s round, the committee questioned his caddie and others in the group about a possible incident on No. 15. All involved were adamant that no advice was given or requested. Consequently, the committee determined that there was no breach of the rules.”

“It’s staggering that they denied it because the video evidence is there,” said Golf Channel’s Paul McGinley on the network’s post-round “Live From” show, which zoomed in on the club and revealed clear as day that it was a 5-iron.

McGinley also tabbed it common practice for caddies to share club information, and not a serious breach among the players.

When asked to explain what happened during his post-round press conference, Koepka defended his caddie. “Yeah, we looked at it when we got back in. GW [Gary Woodland] and Butchie [Brennan Little] had no idea what we were hitting; they didn’t even know because — I know that fact because GW asked me what we hit walking off, when we were walking down. So that’s all I can give you.”

Had Woodland or his caddie been deemed to have asked for the information, Woodland, who shot 68, would have received a two-stroke penalty, too.

[chalkline game=”augusta-challenge” ]

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