Charlie Wi gave new meaning to the term ”going backward” Sunday in the Transitions Championship.
Three straight shots caromed off a tree and went behind him and onto the practice range at Innisbrook. It led to a 13 on the par-5 fifth hole, the second straight week on the PGA Tour that someone made an octuple-bogey.
”It was pretty easy,” said Wi, still able to laugh about such a high score.
His troubles began with a tee shot into the right rough. There was a wood chip next to the ball, which caused his 6-iron to come out to the right into the trees. From there, Wi had a tree in front of him with a trunk about 3 feet high until it split into two limbs, leaving a 4-foot gap.
Wi tried to hit 5-iron through the gap, but it struck the tree and went onto the range. He tried it again and got the same result.
”I said, `OK, that’s not getting up. Give me the 6-iron,”’ he said.
He hit the tree and saw a third ball go back onto the practice range.
”It was right next to the range. The range just stopped,” Wi said. ”Everybody was looking at me.”
All that kept him from trying again were the divots he created. Instead, he chipped sideways toward the fairway, but didn’t hit it far enough and wound up behind another tree. He chipped out sideways again, then hit 5-iron to 12 feet and missed the putt.
Wi had to ask the scorer what he made on the hole.
”It was hard to count,” he said.
A week ago on the third hole at Doral, Sergio Garcia hit four balls into the water and made a 12. John Daly once hit six balls into the water on the sixth hole at Bay Hill and made an 18.
A year ago, Kevin Na was stuck in the shrubs in San Antonio and made a 16. Wi remembered that well. So when he was asked what was going through his mind after the third ball went out-of-bounds and onto the range, he replied, ”I should have just gone `Na.”’
”I should have beat him,” Wi said. ”The problem was, we only had six balls, and I hit three of them on the range. I said, `Man, we might run out of balls.”’
He finished birdie-par-birdie for a 78.
Wi said he probably would have chipped out if he were in contention, instead of 10 shots out of the lead. If he had made par on the hole, his earnings would have been only about $2,000 more.