There were a number of storylines to keep an eye on when The Masters officially kicked off at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday.
That included Rory McIlroy’s quest for his first green jacket and the drama surrounding golfers affiliated with LIV Golf—including one man who founds himself involved in one of the supposed cheating “scandals” that unfolded during the first round of the tournament.
The first of those incidents came courtesy of Collin Morikawa, who appeared to improperly mark his ball in order to move it closer to the cup. However, video evidence showed the ball had actually moved a couple of inches when he went to address it, which meant he wasn’t actually guilty of the alleged rules violation that caused a brief uproar.
However, the case involving Brooks Koepka—or, more specifically, his caddie Ricky Elliott—seems like it’s slightly less (or, depending on how you look at things, more) clear-cut.
The LIV golfer finished Thursday at -7, which meant he was tied at the top of the leaderboard alongside Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm.
However, plenty of fans were convinced he should’ve been docked a couple of strokes thanks to what unfolded on the 15th hole.
Koepka used a 5-iron to hit the green with his second shot on the par-5 before handing it to Elliott, who appeared to tell Gary Woodland’s caddie Brennan Little what club had been used on the shot.
So much of the LIV players being treated poorly by #TheMasters
First round leader Brooks Koepka should have been penalized 2 shots for his caddie giving advice to a competitor. The video evidence couldn’t be more clear, but the players lied, so @TheMasters decided no penalty.🤮 pic.twitter.com/y8UPG2gDs2
— John Ziegler (@Zigmanfreud) April 6, 2023
It’s not entirely clear why Elliott would’ve helped given Woodland (who had yet to hit his approach) a theoretical advantage in the first place, but what is clear is that it seemed like a fairly blatant violation of Rule 10-2a, which reads, “A player must not give advice to anyone in the competition who is playing on the course.”
That section of the rulebook also states, “If the caddie’s action breaches a Rule or would breach a Rule if the action was taken by the player, the player gets the penalty under that Rule,” which meant Koepka could’ve been on the hook for the two-shot penalty if Elliott had indeed been deemed guilty of a violation.
However, Golf Week reports the Masters Tournament Committee issued a statement absolving Koepka and Elliott of any wrongdoing, saying:
“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.”
Golf cheating drama is the best drama.