Prior to this week, Charl Schwartzel had never withdrawn from a tournament due to injury.
Injury wasn’t going to be a concern for him this week at the Valspar Championship, either, as he arrived to the tournament in perfect health. And then he played in the Wednesday Pro-Am round with a group of amateurs.
That’s a weekly occurrence for the pros, and generally speaking, a mundane one.
But not this time.
Here’s what happened:
The group started on the par-4 10th hole. Kerr pushed his drive into the left trees. He attempted to punch out with a 5-iron, but the ball hit a tree limb and caromed onto Schwartzel’s left wrist.
Schwartzel, the Valspar’s defending champion, tried to shake off the pain and played 10 holes before he had to leave the course.
“He winced, but he was very gracious about it,” said Kerr, who is from Birmingham, Ala., and is in the pipe- and valve-fitting business. “Of course, I was very apologetic. He was very kind about it. It’s a horrible feeling.”
Schwartzel said there was swelling and he took painkillers, but he didn’t think it would keep him off the course. He planned to ice the wrist and tee off at 7:56 a.m. today for the first round.
Though this is a tough moment for Schwartzel, he appeared to handle it like a champ:
“I’ve played golf for 28 years now, and I’ve never been hit by a golf ball until (Wednesday) morning,” Schwartzel said. “It was a bit of a fluke. Really bad luck. I tried to play, but I couldn’t hold the club anymore.”
Schwartzel figured it could have been worse.
“It was going to my private parts,” he said of the carom. “I think I’ve gotten better on my reflexes.”
Oof, that poor amateur. It’s hard enough to play in front of a professional player, the week of a professional tournament, on a tour-level course. Likely with a few people in the gallery, as well.
But at the same time…play better, man. You can’t take out pros with your shots. Don’t hit the tree.
Credit Schwartzel for being a good sport about it, but hopefully he’s okay. The course obviously sets up well for him, and the Masters is only a month or so away. This is not the point in the calendar golfers want to experience a freak injury.