NBC reporter loses cart driver to on-course arrest
PINEHURST, N.C. – The loud commotion by the 11th tee right after U.S. Open leader Martin Kaymer teed off had nothing to do with competition. It had to do with an angry North Carolina Highway Patrol officer and the arrest of NBC roving golf reporter Roger Maltbie’s cart driver.
The trooper, identified in the arrest report as Ryan Ashley Goodin, was upset because he said the driver, identified as Thomas Howerton Lineberry, 59, of Wilmington, ran over his foot when leaving the tee area. Goodin then chased the cart on a sandy surface just outside the gallery ropes while yelling, “Stop! Stop!” and “Come back here.”
The trooper finally caught up, climbed onto the back of the cart and put his arms around Lineberry’s neck and shoulders from behind. As Maltbie came over to try to help his friend and colleague, Goodin handcuffed the suspect from behind and arrested him.
“This is a new one,” Maltbie said while walking down the 11th fairway at Pinehurst No. 2. “I’ve been to a couple of rodeos and a county fair, and I’ve never had this happen.”
The N.C. Department of Public Safety said Lineberry was taken to the Moore County Jail on Saturday night in nearby Carthage.
Lineberry was charged with four criminal counts, according to a report released by the Department of Public Safety: felony assault on a law-enforcement officer; felony hit and run; driving while impaired; and resist, obstruct and delay.
"They did take a test, and there was suspicion of an impairment, potentially drugs," said Pam Walker, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety.
Goodin was treated at the State Highway Patrol medical trailer for a minor leg injury and released. Goodin is one of approximately 170 troopers assisting with security at the U.S. Open.
Lineberry was released on a $3,000 secured bond. Messages left by Golfweek at Lineberry's home and work numbers were not immediately returned.
"We are aware of the incident involving a local volunteer and will refrain from commenting further until we have all of the facts and have spoken to everyone involved,” an NBC Sports spokesperson said.
Maltbie said he has been friends with the suspect, whom he would not identify to Golfweek, since his rookie year on Tour. Maltbie said the suspect also drove for him at the 1999 and ’05 U.S. Opens at Pinehurst.
One witness said the cart brushed the officer. It’s clear the mistake that the driver made was in not stopping when ordered. But it’s uncertain whether he knew a law-enforcement officer was screaming for him to stop the cart.
After being handcuffed, Lineberry asked Maltbie to put his headset back on the top of his head so he could inform NBC officials about what happened. Walking down the 11th hole, Maltbie radioed a producer and said, “Send somebody out here. My cart is on the right of the 11th tee.”
Soon after, a substitute driver arrived.
– Golfweek's Steve Harmon contributed to this report