There is only one place in professional golf where players try to intentionally skip the ball off the water and onto a par-3 green. That would be Augusta National Golf Club, where the golfers (and sometimes their caddies) entertain the gallery during practice rounds for the Masters by acting like kids skipping stones across the tranquil pond at the 16th hole. They sometimes actually pull it off.
On Saturday in the LPGA’s Chevron Championship outside of Houston, Angel Yin wasn’t trying to be so dramatic while rising to the top of the leaderboard in the third round. The 24-year-old California native, who shot five-under 67 to be tie for the lead at 10 under, was simply attempting to get her tee shot close to a pin just paces off the front of the pond-protected green at the par-3 12th at Carlton Woods.
Yin played her shot, but it was at least 10 yards short of the flag and found the water with a splash. Only—somehow—the ball reappeared out of the pond, bounded onto the bank and, we repeat—somehow—stayed on the bank without rolling back in. A smiling Yin couldn’t believe her good fortune. “Oh my gosh,” she is heard saying.
“Wow,” said NBC Sports commentator Morgan Pressel.
This was no skip, really. It was like a fish caught it and spit it out—a scenario no less out there than the speculation that followed. Both Pressel and Karen Stupples wondered if the ball hit one of the many turtles in the lakes at Carlton Woods. “It, honestly, had to have hit a turtle,” Pressel said. “What else could it have hit?”
Anchor Terry Gannon questioned that a bit. “I hope not,” he said. “I hope it’s all right, put it that way.”
When the broadcast returned from commercial, Stupples had investigated the pond, reporting, “I went down there to have a look at what could possibly be under there to help the ball stay up. It is fairly shallow, but … ”
In other words, no turtles sighted.
As Stupples was speaking, Yin hit her second-shot pitch, and it nearly went in, grazing the edge of the hole for what would have been one of the greatest water birdies ever. As it is,
In an interview after the round, Yin said of the shot,” Extremely shocked. I thought I was going to get the car for that. Karen [Stupples] was, like, go buy the lottery.”
We will never know how the ball escaped the pond, but if Yin were to go on to win, it would be one of the luckiest breaks in major championship history.