Inside Augusta National’s ruling on the viral Brooks Koepka caddie video

Brooks Koepka caddie video

From left: Ricky Elliott, Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland on Augusta National's 15th hole Thursday.


AUGUSTA, Ga. — After they had completed their opening round of the 87th Masters Thursday evening, Brooks Koepka, and his caddie, Ricky Elliott; Gary Woodland and his caddie, Brennan “Butch” Little; and the third playing partner in their group, 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, were ushered into a room at Augusta National to watch a replay of a video clip from the 15th hole that golf fans had already been dissecting on social media.

In the replay, Elliott appeared to be mouthing the word “five” to Little. That’s significant because Koepka had just played his second shot with a 5-iron, and sharing that information with an opponent or opponent’s caddie would be a violation of Rule 10-2, which carries with it a two-stroke penalty for both the giver and the receiver of the advice. That Koepka was blitzing Augusta National and on his way to a share of the first-round lead only heightened attention around the incident.           

It required closer examination.

Joining the three players and two caddies in the review session were a green-coated Augusta National member and a PGA Tour rules official.

Reaching a verdict required just a couple of minutes of discussion, Woodland told on Friday afternoon following his second-round 72.  

“Yeah, we saw the video,” Woodland said. “Ricky said he wasn’t talking to us, and that’s it. They were in agreement, we were in agreement.”

Case closed, and off they went.

But if Elliott wasn’t communicating with Little, then to whom did he mouth the number, and why?

“No idea,” Woodland said. “I don’t know if there was anyone around us or not. Like I said, I was looking at the golf ball when we looked back at the video. That’s all I know.”

Woodland, in a larger scrum with reporters Friday, added that Little “didn’t hear anything or see anything either.”

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After his second round Friday, Koepka was also asked about what had happened in the review.

“I think what they said was [Elliott] was signaling to somebody else or he was signaling to somebody of what [the club] was,” he said. “It wasn’t Butchie.”

Woodland — whose tee shot was 22 yards ahead of Koepka’s in the fairway — said that he did not know Koepka’s club selection until after Woodland had played his second shot. In fact, Woodland said, he had asked Little after Koepka had hit if he had happened to spot what iron Koepka had played (which is legal under the rules), and Little said he had not.

“When we were walking down the fairway [after their second shots], I asked Brooks what he hit,” Woodland told me. “He said, ‘5-iron.’ I said, ‘I’m f—in’ glad I didn’t know that, because I would have hit 6 in the middle of the water if I knew that.”

Instead, Woodland, who had 209 yards left to the pin, hit a “choked-up” 5-iron to 20 feet. Koepka, who had played first, had also hit his second shot close, and both players two-putted for birdie 4s. Woodland would sign for four-under 68 and Koepka for a seven-under 65.

Koepka’s torrid play continued Friday, when in the early wave he posted a 67 to take command of the tournament. With many players still on the course Friday afternoon, Koepka, at 12 under, had a three-stroke lead over Jon Rahm, who still had nine holes to play.  

brooks koepka flashing five fingers at 2023 masters
Koepka removing his glove after hitting his second shot on 15 in the first round. CBS

Following his round, Koepka told reporters that he reviewed the footage from 15 again with officials before his second round Friday. The committee wanted Koepka to explain one other part of the clip that had raised eyebrows: As Koepka removed his glove after playing his second shot, it appeared that he might have tipped off his club choice to Little by flashing five fingers at him.

Koepka said that suspicion was much ado about nothing.

“Today was just about my — I guess my hand and my glove,” he said. “I don’t know if you’re supposed to take your glove off with your fist closed or what now.”

Alan Bastable Editor

As’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.

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