Drexel golf aide 'had to disqualify myself' from U.S. Amateur

Chris Crawford knew there was no other choice.

Although he was 2-under par after five holes at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles on the second day of stroke-play qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, attempting to make it to match play for the first time in his career, Crawford knew a breach of the Rules of Golf had been committed and he had to disqualify himself.

His caddie, a Bel-Air employee he did not wish to identify, had been using a range finder with the slope feature activated through the early holes without Crawford’s knowledge, a violation of Rule 14-3. He discovered the news on the fairway of his sixth hole, Bel-Air’s 15th, and asked to speak to a rules official.

The 23-year-old Drexel graduate from Bensalem and his caddie were the only two people to know about the breach, but the thought of keeping it to himself never occurred to him.

“I did the only thing that I thought there was to do,” Crawford said in a telephone interview Wednesday while awaiting a flight back to Philadelphia. “I knew I was in violation of the rules and there was no option.

“No one else would have known in theory. Somebody in my position could have hid that, but that’s just not even a consideration. It would have been such a wrong thing to do. That never crossed my mind. I knew immediately that I had to disqualify myself.”

Crawford knew something was wrong on the 15th fairway when he and his caddie disagreed on a yardage for his approach shot. He had used his yardage book, which already had calculated the slope, and the caddie had a different slope calculation after using his personal range finder.

“As soon as I heard him say that, I was like, ‘How would he have known that?’” Crawford said. “At that point I was completely flustered. I hit a bad shot but I pretty much knew at that point it was over.

“I asked the caddie on the green, ‘I was a little confused about what happened on the fairway. Does your range finder have a slope adjustment on it?’ And he told me it did, and I pretty much knew at that point there was going to be a disqualification.”

The disqualification was crushing for Crawford, who is pointing to the Web.com Tour’s qualifying tournament in October. He had not qualified for match play in four previous tries in the U.S. Amateur, and after a 3-over-par 73 in Monday’s first round of qualifying at Riviera Country Club, he was optimistic about his chances this year.

“It was obviously really upsetting for us to come all this way, just me and my mom,” he said. “It’s such a financial burden for us to come across the country like this.

“Obviously it’s impossible to predict what would have happened. I’d like to have thought I would have been OK, especially with the way I felt about the day. But to have that kind of thing taken from you, an opportunity like that, was obviously devastating.”