Jason Day’s tee shot gets stuck in tree, takes one-shot penalty at Bay Hill
March 05, 2021
By Jeff Babineau, PGATOUR.COM
- March 05, 2021
Jason Day’s tree trouble at the par-5 16th at Arnold Palmer
ORLANDO, Fla. – Jason Day stood along the right edge of the fairway on the benign par-5 16th hole at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, peering skyward through giant binoculars, looking like an expert birdwatcher looking for Florida’s rare black-whiskered vireo.
Instead, Day was searching for his Bridgestone golf ball, which he’d driven right, high into a tree, with the ball never returning to earth on Day 2 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. With the help of binoculars borrowed from a spotter, a television camera and a digital camera, Day finally was able to locate and identify his ball (he did so through its Bridgestone ‘B XS’ sidestamp) that had settled in a bird nest well up in the tree.
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Having identified the ball, Day was able to declare his ball unplayable, and not required to go back to the tee to hit another ball. The rule states a golfer does not have to physically recover the ball, and Day was able to drop two club lengths from the base of the tree, taking a one-shot penalty. An interpretation of Rule 19.2 states that if a player’s ball is above the ground (such as in a tree, or a bush), the player may take lateral relief using the point on the ground below the spot of the ball.
Day laid up short of the water that fronts the green, missed the green just right with his fourth shot, and took three shots to get down from the collar. Double-bogey. Not the result he had been thinking about standing on the tee of the course’s easiest hole at 4 under par minutes earlier.
“I think the mama bird is going to come back and find another egg there,” Day said. “So it’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.”
Day would make another double at 18 from a greenside bunker (“That was more of a gut punch than 16,” he said), but fought back to make three birdies on the front nine (his second nine) and shoot level-par 72. The 2016 API champion, who early in his career lived only five minutes from the gates at Bay Hill, stands at 2-under 142 heading to the weekend.
Eight years ago, also at Bay Hill, Sergio Garcia had a ball get stuck about 15 feet into the “V” of a tree right of the par-4 10th hole. To the cheers of a gallery, he climbed up the tree and played a backwards shot onto the green. He, too, made double, but after a rain delay, had to withdraw with six holes to play in his round because he had strained his shoulder.
Day wasn’t heading up a tree to play this one. Asked if he’d ever had a ball get stuck in a tree before, Day said he hadn’t.
“It’s just like one of these trees here,” Day said, pointing to a thinned-out tree near the practice tee, “so there’s nothing for it to hold up, other than a nest. So it’s unfortunate … but I’m glad we found it in the end.”
Saturday, the binoculars returned, Day will get back to hunting birdies and eagles.