AUGUSTA, Ga. — Strong winds caused all manner of problems Saturday during the third round of the Masters. They even blew Billy Horschel’s ball off a green and into a water hazard, which cost him a penalty stroke.
Horschel had hit his second shot to the par-5 15th just left of the green, then chipped on and marked his ball.
After placing his ball back, a wind gust came up and started the ball rolling … all the way into the water hazard that fronts the green.
The Rules of Golf treat that situation as if the ball had never stopped after Horschel hit it. He had to take a penalty stroke and was able to drop from where he originally hit his third shot. He chipped up close and made the putt for a bogey 6.
“I knew what was going to happen,” said Horschel, who shot 73. “I knew that once the ball rolls, once it’s in play, if it starts rolling, you have to play it from where it finishes, and obviously, I didn’t have my scuba gear to play it from the water.
“So I just wasn’t happy. I was good enough, in the sense that I expressed some frustrations to the rules official, but it was nothing out of hand, nothing out of line. I just expressed that they wanted to get the course on a fine line, and it’s been on a fine line today, but it’s fair.
“It’s an unfortunate situation where a big, old gust came through, my ball was a foot or two from a false front, and it started rolling, and the wind kept pushing it to the false front, and it went in the water.”
When Horschel finished his round, only two players had completed the third round under par: Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen, with 71s.
A strong breeze and cool temperatures made scoring difficult, with several players in the 80s, including Kevin Na with an 85.
“It was one of the toughest days I’ve ever seen out here in my time here,” said Adam Scott, who shot 75.
Horschel was understandably frustrated and perhaps a bit miffed at the situation, but he resisted any urge to call out the course setup.
“I did a really good job of maintaining some composure,” he said. “It wasn’t their fault. They can’t do anything about it. I didn’t throw any curse words at them or say anything bad. I just expressed that I thought that it was just a little … the course is on a fine line. When you get crusty greens, the way they want them all week, the moisture is out of them … you get them really fast and really crusty and get the winds blowing …”