Kraft's tee shot strikes bird in mid-air
Kraft double-bogeys after ball hits ‘giant, black bird’ and falls in water. Bird unharmed.
April 13, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- Kelly Kraft hit a "giant, black bird" on the 14th hole at the RBC Heritage on Friday.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Chalk up another victory for Friday the 13th.
Kelly Kraft of Dallas was cruising inside the cut line at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town on Friday when a freak bird strike potentially scuttled his chances of playing into the weekend. Kraft made what he described as clean contact at the 192-yard, par-3 14th hole only to watch his ball glance off a “giant, black bird” and plop into the water hazard in front of the green.
The bird flew away.
“It cost me the cut, most likely,” Kraft said. “There was a helping wind, and I hit a 7-iron, caught it perfect. It was probably 30 yards off the tee box and this giant, black bird swooped in front of it and hit it and the ball fell 20 yards short in the water. It would’ve been in the middle of the green. It might have been close. I got screwed.”
A bird strike on the course is so rare that Kraft, playing with Robert Garrigus and Michael Thompson, initially wasn’t sure what to do. None of them were. They needed a ruling.
“Robert Garrigus came running up to me first,” said Mark Dusbabek, one of the PGA TOUR rules officials on site. “He said, ‘His ball hit a bird in flight! That’s a cancel-and-replay, right?’”
It was not. The cancel-and-replay rule is invoked if a ball hits a permanent, elevated power line, but not a bird.
“The big difference is a bird is a God-made object,” said Dillard Pruitt, another TOUR rules official on site. “Whereas a telephone wire is man-made. It’s just a stroke of bad luck. It doesn’t happen very often, but today is Friday the 13th. Freaky Friday.”
Dusbabek said Gary Woodland hit a bird at the CIMB Classic last fall, which turned out to be a good break as his ball landed on the green.
Although a seagull once plucked Brad Fabel’s ball off the green and dropped it in the water at THE PLAYERS Championship, he was allowed to replace it thanks to Rule 18-1.
“The difference there was the ball was at rest,” Pruitt said, “and this one you just don’t know where it would’ve gone. It could’ve gone in the water or it could have gone in the hole.”
Kraft believes it was going on the green. He bounced back with birdies on the 17th and first holes, but bogeyed the seventh hole to wind up at 1-over, most likely one shot outside the cut line.
“It’s kind of a dumb rule that you can’t re-tee there,” Kraft said. “If you hit a power line, you can re-tee, and if a bird moves your ball while it’s resting you can replace it. But there’s nothing you can do about this. This has got to be more unusual than a hole-in-one. Two moving objects colliding? I mean you hit balls all day long on the range and you don’t hit another ball in the air.”
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