TOUR players react to ballistic missile warning
January 14, 2018
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
- Many TOUR players were shocked to receive a ballistic missile alert on Saturday morning at the Sony Open in Hawaii. (Stan Badz, Getty Images)
HONOLULU - Charles Howell III was eating breakfast at his hotel when an orchestra of phone alerts went off around him and he had to do a double take when he glanced down at his own device to see a ballistic missile warning.
After initially freezing with disbelief Howell had the perfect guy to call.
“I texted a friend of mine who I went to high school with and he is in the navy over here,” he said.
Problem was, his response initially made things worse.
“He’s second in command on a destroyer and they were scrambling as well,” Howell said.
“But then he texted me right back and said it was a false alarm.”
It was a wild morning for many people across Hawaii who had varying lengths of time where the threat of an attack felt very real.
TOUR players, families, fans and officials were part of the larger community who received an alarm at 8:07 a.m. local time on their phones stating “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
An alert also went across local television screens describing how a missile threat was detected that “may impact on land or sea within minutes."
While various parts of social media and the TOUR itself had confirmed the threat was false in relatively quick time, a second alert revealing the false nature of events was not sent out by authorities for 38 minutes.
The official word is human error – with someone clicking the wrong button on a computer.
This caused varying levels of panic across the state with people seeking shelter in basements and even the sewer.
TOUR players took to social media in a quest for information with multiple tweets and Instagram posts.
“I kind of thought maybe, if we had a car, it would be wise to get in it and drive as far away from town as possible,” Jordan Spieth said of his initial thoughts.
“It was pretty scary at the hotel when they came over the loud speaker and said everyone take shelter, this isn't a drill.
“It certainly was a bit of a learning experience to try to figure out and do some research on what could possibly happen.”
Spieth called his fiancée Annie and his parents during the chaos and received the good news via his brother.
He wasn’t the only player trying to figure out what to do in the crisis.
“Part of you thinks get a Mai-Tai, go to the beach and get a front row seat,” Howell III said.
“I mean what are you going to do? We live in such a great country where we don’t even consider this reality while other countries in the world deal with it fairly regularly.
“So I think part of it is you get the alert and you think this can’t be real but it is a sign of the world we live in now that it could be real. It was definitely attention getting I know that.”
Defending FedExCup champion Justin Thomas was one player who didn’t get the alert until it was sent to him from fellow pro Tom Lovelady.
“I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it's my time, it's my time,” he said.
To all that just received the warning along with me this morning... apparently it was a “mistake” 🤔 hell of a mistake!! Haha glad to know we’ll all be safe https://t.co/sYmuVzymaQ— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) January 13, 2018
Australian Matt Jones did the same thing in his downtown Waikiki hotel.
“I was having a coffee downstairs, looked around and people seemed to be starting to worry. But I went upstairs to my room, texted my wife and just sat on the balcony to wait and see,” he explained.
“I didn’t believe it was real because I can’t believe anyone would bomb America – you don’t want to awaken that giant. But I saw the coast guard out in the water so I knew something was up.”
Tony FInau – who has his four kids and wife with him this week – was still in bed when the alarm popped up.
He stayed on high alert for a good 45 minutes before he started to be comfortable the threat was not real.
Eight holes into his third round Finau had his first hole-in-one on the PGA TOUR.
“That was crazy - the whole mood changed,” he said of the initial alarm.
“It wasn’t a great morning as far as the emotions go. From that moment to the moment the ball dropped for the hole in one, the roller coaster of emotions was pretty crazy.”