PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Kevin Na may want to remove a wedge and carry a chainsaw in his bag.
Last year, it was the adventure in the brush at TPC San Antonio, leading to a PGA Tour record 16 at the par-4 ninth.
On Thursday, Na took a double bogey at the par-4 first hole – his 10th of the day – in the first round of the Players Championship when his ball was lost in a palm tree near the green.
Fortunately for Na, his nine birdies on the round were more than enough to overcome the anomaly to shoot 5-under 67.
'I played awesome today, made a lot of putts,' Na said. 'The only thing was on No. 1, my ball got caught up in a tree, and we all know it stayed up in the tree, but unless you can identify the ball, it's a lost ball. ... But besides that, I was very pleased with my round.'
Na went out in bogey-free 30 on the back nine at the Stadium Course, turning with visions of the course record (63) before he caught an unlucky break.
'I figured if I got two or three more – two more I had a chance,' he said, 'three more was definitely in. It was very doable with two par-5s. But right off the bat I made double, so that was a pipe dream.'
Na pulled his tee shot at the first, leaving himself with a hook lie from the pine straw for his second shot. Needing to curve his ball around some palm trees to reach the green, Na aimed to the right of his target. The ball never moved off the target, nestling in the canopy of one of a small grove of palms.
Several observers confirmed they never saw the ball drop to the ground. Na then called in rules official Brian Claar, who helped Na try to identify his ball in the tree with binoculars. When they couldn't, Na jokingly asked for a volunteer to climb the tree to identify the ball.
'It was a pretty big tree, and I asked for any volunteers to climb up the tree, but nobody spoke up,' Na said with a laugh.
The ball was declared lost, Na replayed his pine-straw approach and nearly made the bogey putt.
The Vegas native likely does not celebrate Arbor Day. It's his second time losing a ball in a tree this year. On the second hole at Riviera, he found his ball stuck in a tree under dubious circumstances.
'It was a little fishy because there was a water bottle next to my ball,' he said. 'That was a little fishy there. But whatever.'