More on that bit of misfortune in a second, but let’s first appreciate what Sargent has been doing in his young amateur career. The world’s top-ranked am has burst into the spotlight since winning the 2022 NCAA Championship individual title as a freshman at Vanderbilt. He had a memorable appearance at his first Masters in April and collected two more college wins during his sophomore season.
That was before Sargent shot rounds of 69-71-75-69 to nab low amateur honors by nine shots at the U.S. Open this week at Los Angeles Country Club. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he’s just the sixth amateur to have two rounds in the 60s at a U.S. Open, but that 69 on Sunday really should have been one shot lower.
This isn’t the woulda-coulda-shoulda game, either. Watch the video below to see why.
Already having low amateur honors locked up, Sargent cozied his 37-foot birdie putt just two feet below the cup on the 72nd green. A par putt that short is more or less a formality for most elite players, and Sargent marked and went through his routine before taking what he — and everyone else — expected to be his final stroke at LACC.
He brushed the putt into the back of the cup, but the ball somehow didn’t fall. Instead, it dove into the top edge of the cup liner and bounced out.
Sargent stood there stupefied before tapping in what was ultimately an undeserved bogey. Thankfully it didn’t mean anything with Sargent not in contention and ineligible for the tournament purse, but it was still shocking.
“[It] just bounced right back to me,” Sargent said afterward. “Haven’t seen that happen in a while, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
It brought back memories of journeyman pro Joe Daley, who infamously had the same thing happen to him during the fourth round of Q-School in 2000 before eventually missing his PGA Tour card by a shot.
The whole ordeal went down as USGA CEO Mike Wahn had a front-row seat, making an appearance in the NBC broadcast booth.
A USGA spokesperson told GOLF.com that a player or caddie in the group before Sargent’s had “inadvertently adjusted the hole liner when removing the flagstick. Unfortunately, we were not informed of any damage.” The spokesperson said the issue has since been rectified, just too late for Sargent.
In the aftermath, Golf Twitter did as Golf Twitter does.
It was still a huge week for Sargent, playing in his second major. He earns two points for starting and making the cut this week for the PGA Tour U Accelerated program and is nearly a lock to earn a Walker Cup bid later this summer, giving him another two points. That would give him 18 points, just two away from automatic PGA Tour status at the end of his third college season before his junior year even begins.
See, it’s still not too bad being Gordon Sargent.