Tech golf Tyler Strafaci advances to quarterfinals of U.S. Amateur

Georgia Tech golfer Tyler Strafaci. Clyde Click / Special to the AJC
Georgia Tech golfer Tyler Strafaci. Clyde Click / Special to the AJC

Credit: Clyde Click

Credit: Clyde Click

Georgia Tech’s Tyler Strafaci reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur golf tournament with an odd victory in the Round of 16 on Thursday.

Strafaci, vying to become the second consecutive Georgia Tech golfer to win the U.S. Amateur, defeated Segundo Oliva Pinto at Bandon Dunes in Oregon on a rules infraction on the 18th hole of their match.

With the match tied and Oliva Pinto in a greenside bunker preparing for his fourth shot, TV cameras caught his caddie brush the sand. Strafaci’s caddie, his father Frank, witnessed Brewer and called for a rules official. After a lengthy discussion, Brewer was determined to have violated Rule 12.2b, which states a player or caddie must not “deliberately touch sand in the bunker with a hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn information for the next stroke.”

The penalty is loss of hole and thus the match.

Strafaci moves on to face Stewart Hagestad in the quarterfinals Friday at 4:15 p.m. ET.

“I was reading my putt and saw him duck down,” Tyler Strafaci told the Golf Channel. “I didn’t see him touch the sand, so I didn’t think I was right to make a decision on it, but my dad saw it and he’s going to fight to the death for me. It sucks that it came down to that because it was a phenomenal match.”

Oliva Pinto’s caddie, Brant Brewer, claimed he didn’t touch the sand. However, television replays showed the infraction.

“At this point, it doesn’t really matter,” Oliva Pinto told the Golf Channel. “What happened, happened. He can say anything, but it won’t change what happened.”

The 22-year-old Strafaci, ranked 56th ranked amateur, earned the No. 41 seed by shooting even par in the first two rounds of stroke play. He then defeated Kelly Chinn (4-and-2) and Julian Perico (2-and-1) before the victory over Oliva Pinto (1-up).

Strafaci will face the 29-year-old Hagestad, the 15th ranked amateur and winner of the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur. He was the low amateur in the 2017 Masters, the first U.S. Mid-Am champion to make the cut.

Strafaci is the lone golfer remaining of the 17 with local ties, including Tech’s Andy Ogletree, who won the event last year.