In his 15 years at the Masters, in his two decades as a pro, Zach Johnson had never experienced a shot like this.
He had never hit one that short, either, but at least it didn’t count.
Johnson was going through his practice routine on the par-five 13th on Friday when the tip of his driver hit the golf ball. It went straight right into the tee marker and then ricocheted to the left about five yards away.
Johnson was so stunned he blurted out, “Oh, [deleted]," before turning to his group to figure out his next move. Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter and the caddies replied in unison that the shot wasn’t intentional and there was no penalty.
“I thought I had done it all,” Johnson said. “But now I know I’ve done it all. ... I don’t think I could do it again if I tried.”
That he wasn’t trying to hit the shot is what kept him from the penalty, a decision in place even before the new Rules of Golf this year. It’s covered under Rule 6.2b(5) on starting a hole: “If a teed ball falls off the tee or is knocked off the tee by the player before the player has made a stroke at it, it may be re-teed anywhere in the teeing area without penalty.”
Johnson said he knew the rule. His reaction was “only because I have never done that.”
The rest of the group apparently hadn’t either because they couldn’t stifle their laughter.
“Y’all can laugh,” Johnson said as he prepared to hit again. “That is embarrassing.”
Johnson drilled his tee shot and wound up making birdie on his way to a 73.