A professional golfer was arrested in Florida on Thursday after sending explicit messages and trying to meet up with an undercover officer posing as a teenage girl, authorities said.
Orlando police said Daniel Bowling was "a dangerous online predator" who thought he was meeting a 15-year-old girl he'd chatted with online. Instead, the person was the officer pretending to be a teen, officials said.
Bowling, 26, first contacted the decoy in early April through AdChat, a messaging platform, according to police. The conversations "turned sexual in nature within the first 24 hours and intensified quickly," authorities said.
He was arrested on Thursday as he attempted to meet up with the decoy, according to police. Bowling was booked into the Orange County Jail on 12 charges, including obscene communication, traveling to meet with a minor and attempted lewd and lascivious molestation, officials said.
“Unfortunately, there are potentially hundreds of predators like Mr. Bowling online,” said Jennifer Wing of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. “I hope news of today’s arrest encourages parents to be more proactive in monitoring their children’s lives online.”
Bowling said in an Instagram post last week that he was playing pre-qualifying rounds of the U.S. Open at the Orange Tree Golf Club in Dr. Phillips, an area just southwest of Orlando. During the qualifying game on May 5, Bowling scored a 78 and placed in the T35 position, which did not qualify him, according to the Florida State Golf Association.
A PGA Tour spokesman said Bowling did play in a Mackenzie Tour/PGA Tour Canada event in 2016. However, the official added that Bowling is not a member of any of the six PGA Tours and has never been one.
"I would characterize his career as a golf professional in the sense of a 'teaching professional,' " the spokesman said.
Bowling did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. It was unclear if he had an attorney.