Pro recounts ‘scary’ moments after taking drive to the head at the PGA Championship

Aaron Wise was attended to in the fairway after getting struck in the head with a drive.

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Aaron Wise’s PGA Championship changed in an instant on Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon, he’s grateful that was the only thing.

On Sunday, Wise carded an even-par 70 in his final round at Southern Hills. The 25-year-old finished the tournament at two over, good enough for his second-best career finish in the event. But of course, the golf wasn’t on anybody’s mind as Wise met with reporters after the completion of the round.

What they — what everybody — wanted to know, was the same.

Are you okay?

On Friday at the PGA Championship, Wise was struck in the head with an errant drive from fellow competitor Cameron Smith. On Sunday, he recounted the situation publicly for the first time.

Aaron Wise took a drive to the head at the PGA Championship.
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“Obviously what happened in the second round was scary,” he said. “On 7, we hit it down the right side and all the balls were in the rough and we were just trying to find them all for everybody. I went down to look and see if it was my ball or Joel’s ball who I was playing with, and next thing you know, I just kind of was down on one knee, didn’t really know what happened at the time and then obviously probably 10, 20 seconds later it kind of all came back to me.”

As Wise’s caddie, Brian Dilley, and his playing partner Joel Dahmen surrounded him, Wise took stock of the situation.

“Kind of felt the area, made sure it wasn’t bleeding or anything crazy like that. I didn’t feel any blood. I had some ringing in my ears which went away pretty quick after that,” he said. “So took two, three minutes. Made sure that nothing crazy was going on.”

After a few minutes in the grass with a cold water bottle pressed to the back of his head, Wise decided to soldier on.

“Felt like I was able to keep playing,” Wise said. “Went par, par bogey on 7, 8, 9. Obviously, golf was not at the forefront of what was on my mind at that point … it was trying to get to see a doctor and make sure nothing crazy was going on.”

Aaron Wise
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Eventually, Wise finished his round and was able to see a doctor. He was medically cleared to continue competing, but still struggling physically.

“Friday night was tough, a lot of icing on the head and a lot of swelling,” Wise said. “I actually felt pretty good waking up Saturday morning and felt good waking up this morning.”

It turned into a good week for Wise at the PGA Championship, who finished T23. He’s fortunate enough to see that now. The injury cost him a handful of strokes, yes, but it could’ve been so much more.

“Was able to focus on golf on the weekend, which is nice,” Wise said. “Maybe it’s not quite as important as I thought it was on Friday before I got hit.”

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at