The anatomy of a 15


Kevin Na just had a struggle from underneath a tree at the par-5 eighth hole, when he arrived at the tee on the par-4 ninth at TPC San Antonio in the opening round of the Valero Texas Open.

Little did he know what was about to happen.

Na hit his tee shot well to the right. Way right. It went into the woods – deep brush, filled with thorny branches and dense, small trees. Miraculously, Na and his caddie found the ball, but decided there was no way that they could properly play the ball to get it out of the forest. So they headed back to the tee.

Then Na hit his second tee shot – his third shot overall. It may as well have been an instant replay of the first. He dropped his club to the ground instantly in disgust. It went deep right again.

For good measure – in case of a lost ball, not an unplayable lie – Na hit a half-decent provisional, although that went left.

Na and his caddie found the second tee ball in the woods. He was now lying three, hitting four. He and his caddie assessed that there was a “50/50 chance” of getting out with a pitched 7- or 8-iron. Na decided he was going to take his chances..

Whack. The ball hit a tree in front of Na, then something else, and landed behind him. That something else was Na’s pant leg.

“Unless that was a branch that came up,” Na said to his caddie, “that was the ball.”

The two brought in a rules official to explain. Over the radio, a Tour official told Na, “It appears from television the ball did strike you.”

That’s a penalty stroke. Now, he’s lying five. But from where he now was, he couldn't hit the ball. So he took an unplayable lie and moved back two club lengths. Up to seven.

On his eighth shot, the ball went forward, but deeper into the woods on the right. Na walked up to the ball quickly, took a left-handed stance, and whacked at it again for nine. That moved about 4 feet. Then he hit his 10th shot from the right side. It went forward, but still about the same depth in the woods.

Na found his 10th shot and whacked at it again. This time it went backward and Na yelled, “Oh, come on!” to the ball.

Finally, with his 12th shot, Na got out of the woods to somewhat relieved, somewhat sarcastic applause.

With prickly thorn in his clothing and likely some tears (not crying, but rips) in his shirt, Na got green side from 108 yards with his 13th shot. He then got up-and-down for 15 – the worst score ever recorded on a par-4 hole on the PGA Tour (John Daly made 18 on the par-5 sixth at Bay Hill in 1998).

At that point, what can you do but smile? Withdraw?