Early Friday afternoon at the Players Championship, things seemed too good to be true for PGA Tour journeyman Chad Ramey. Then at TPC Sawgrass’ famous island-green 17th hole, Ramey’s hopes for an unlikely win came crashing down with a splash.
Ramey, a 30-year-old pro from Mississippi, shocked the field when he went out and shot an incredible eight-under 64 in Thursday’s opening round, giving him the early lead.
Ramey does have a PGA Tour win on his resume, having triumphed at last year’s Corales Puntacana Championship. But that was an opposite-field event which Ramey earned $666,000 for winning. The Players is a completely different type of tournament, featuring the best players in the world and a winner’s check worth $4.5 million. So Ramey’s performance was impressive, and set up the possibility for a life-changing week.
Even more impressive was the fact that, despite the treacherous course and conditions, Ramey made his way through the first 18 holes without a bogey.
Beginning the second round on the back nine, Ramey quickly added birdies at 11 and 12 to move to 10 under and increase his lead, while many other pros were posting crooked numbers. The first crack showed at the par-3 13th, where Ramey made his first bogey of the tournament to fall back to nine under.
Even with the bogey, he still held a multi-shot lead, and the dream of winning the biggest event of his career was very much alive. Then he arrived at 17.
TPC Sawgrass’ most famous hole was playing 145 yards on Friday, and as usual, several players had already donated their tee shots to the pond surrounding the green.
With the nerves no doubt vibrating through his body, Ramey pulled a wedge and sent his first shot too far, landing on the back of the green and bounding into the water.
It was a disastrous turn of events, but if he were to safely land his second shot on the green and make the putt, he could walk away with a bogey and maintain his lead. But it wasn’t meant to be.
Ramey’s second swing (and third shot) from the drop area also soared over the green and into the water, possibly sinking Ramey’s dream along with it. He reached the green on his third attempt, and two-putted for a devastating quadruple-bogey 7, dropping him from nine under to five under.
Check out the shot below.
Ramey had only finished 10 holes when play was suspended Friday night, so he will return Saturday morning to finish his round and try to claw his way back into contention.