Kiradech Aphibarnrat hit his ball right on the par-5 11th on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, it never dropped down from the trees, and all eyes pointed to the sky on Friday. The fans and their cells looked up. Aphibarnrat, his caddie, playing partners Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson and their caddies looked up.
Reed looked back down and looked at the Golf Channel cameraman.
“Is there a camera on that?” he asked.
Aphibarnrat had three minutes to identify his ball during the second round of the Valspar Championship. If he could, under the rules, he would unlock two additional options of relief: lateral, under rule 19.2c, and back-on-the-line, under rule 19.2b. If he couldn’t identify his ball, he would be forced to take the much more penal stroke-and-distance relief option, under rule 19.2.
Reed coached the cameraman to pan up, and he zoomed in.
“You see it, though, huh?” Reed asked.
The camera panned back down to Reed, who was now holding one of Aphibarnrat’s golf balls. It had a marking on the side that would identify the one in the tree.
“Does it look like that?” Reed asked.
“You can’t tell?”
The cameraman, a rules official and Aphibarnrat continued to look as Reed and Mickelson played their shots. The cameraman called in to what sounded like the production truck and asked if they could see. Aphibarnrat and the official used Aphibarnrat’s rangefinder, then binoculars.
“Does this count towards 3 minutes?” on-course analyst Colt Knost asked during the broadcast.
“That’s a good question,” analyst Curt Byrum said.
“If that’s the case, it’s been too long,” Knost said.
“Got a rules official right there,” Byrum said.
He and Aphibarnrat met their deadline. The ball was identified, Aphibarnrat took his penalty and a drop, then narrowly lost that shot after he hit right again before finishing the hole with a bogey. From there, he’d play the final seven holes at two over and miss the cut.
“This is just an awful break at the wrong time,” Knost said of the ball settling into a tree.