By Andrew Both
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Billy Horschel was the victim of a bizarre incident when his ball blew off the green into a pond as he prepared to putt at the 15th green at the Masters on Saturday.
Horschel's third shot, a chip at the par-five, trickled down to within 13 feet of the hole, where he marked his ball to have it cleaned for his birdie putt.
But after replacing his ball, he watched in dismay as it started moving, ever so slow at first, before picking up pace and rolling back down the front of the green and into a watery grave, wind and gravity conspiring against him.
The rules of golf are unyielding and severe, and Horschel had no choice but to take a penalty stroke. He dropped his ball from almost the same spot as he had played his third, but this time he was playing five. He then got up-and-down for bogey.
“I didn’t have my scuba gear to play it from the water,” joked Florida-born Horschel, who bogeyed the hole en route to a 73 and a four-over 220 total.
“The course is on a fine line. A big old gust came through, my ball was a foot or two from a false front, and it started rolling and the wind kept pushing it to the false front and it went in the water.
“It’s bad luck. Nothing like that has ever happened to me like that in the past that I can remember. It’s not the rules officials’ fault, it’s not Augusta’s fault, it’s nobody’s fault for that happening.”
Even so, the three-times PGA Tour winner admitted he "expressed some frustration" to the rules official on the scene.
As for the golfing Gods, Horschel has a message.
“I think they owe me one,” he said.
(Editing by Larry Fine)