AUSTRALIAN golfer Clint Rice has had his clubs confiscated while attempting a US Open practise round.
Ranked Number 1188 in the world, Rice is one of the top alternates - reserves - for this week's US Open at Chambers Bay after battling through local and sectional qualifying events in recent weeks.
He was informally told he'd be able to play a practice round on the Chambers Bay course in the off-chance he was a last-minute inclusion into the field.
But after playing four holes with 2006 US Open champion and fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy on Tuesday, a USGA official approached Rice and politely, but immediately, stopped him from playing.
His clubs were taken away and the 34-year old Tasmanian was left to walk the final five holes of the nine he'd intended to play, only being able to talk with Ogilvy, but not play.
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USGA rules state that alternates can use all the practice facilities, but are not allowed to play on the course proper ahead of the tournament.
A USGA official later confirmed Rice had been previously given a document which stated that he had no playing privileges.
Ogilvy said he understood the USGA rules, but that the incident was a shame.
"It's a bit silly if you're not holding anybody up or interfering with their practice," Ogilvy said.
"I'd get it if there were no spots available for players in the field. But this wasn't the case here.
"I was playing on my own in the afternoon and he just asked if he could play with me and, of course, I said yes."
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The 2006 US Open champion stood up for his compatriot, saying it would be extremely unfair to Rice if he was given a late call-up to the field.
"I get where the USGA is coming from, but surely the top few alternates should be able to play," Ogilvy said.
"What happens if he gets in on Thursday and hasn't seen the course? He effectively has his chances limited.
"It's a shame because we were having a good time and he seemed like a really good bloke."
Rice chose to not comment on the matter.
Photo: Joey Ratcliffe
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