Qualifiers for the U.S. Open come in every variety, from elite weekend warriors to seasoned tour pros. Michael Buttacavoli lands somewhere in between (albeit closer to seasoned tour pro) as a competitor on the PGA Tour’s Latinoamerica Tour.
Buttacavoli finished the Latinoamerica’s Quito Open in Ecuador Sunday night and boarded an American Airlines jet for Miami, Florida. The Rice alum was slated to tee it up in U.S. Open sectional qualifying at 7:26 Monday morning.
Unfortunately, while Buttacavoli arrived safely in Florida, his clubs did not, leaving him in a bind for his round at Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta.
“I was met with supportive parents with food in the car and stuff I needed. My brother was going to caddie for me. I figured I’d get there, have a 30-40 minute warmup, and go,” Buttacavoli told Golf Digest. “My bag just never came.”
— Michael Buttacavoli (@mbutta326) June 5, 2017
Now, we’ve been presented with plenty of stories of airlines losing pros’ clubs, or breaking them, or this bit of ridiculousness: Graham DeLaet’s bag looking like it just emerged from a demolition site (in reality, protein powder in his bag exploded all over it).
You just can't make this stuff up. pic.twitter.com/CWyEQXIPcK
— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) July 14, 2015
But Buttacavoli’s saga is particularly sad because he loses out on a potentially career-changing opportunity. In the frenzy to try and find his sticks, Buttacavoli briefly considered playing with a rental set. But knowing how hard qualifying for the U.S. Open is while using clubs you’re eminently comfortable with, he didn’t want to take the chance.
Of course, it’s easy for an armchair observer to say Buttacavoli should have teed it up with any clubs he could find, but that’s something akin to victim blaming. The real marrow of this story: American Airlines lost this guy’s bag, then gave him the Twitter runaround.
Seriously. Check out this exchange, which anyone who’s dealt with the horror of airline customer service can certainly sympathize with.
Nothing like psuedo-stellar customer service on top of an already maddening situation. “We’re right here to help you…but we can’t help at all. DM us,” the airline seems to say. Buttacavoli has a Latinoamerica event this week. Here’s hoping American Airlines can figure out what they did with his clubs and return them to him before then.
Ultimately, you have to hope the golfer will try to turn this massive negative into something positive, perhaps using it as motivation to #PlayBetter so he can afford a private jet ala Tour luminaries.