Albin Choi, his broken tree and his driver Saturday at the LECOM Suncoast Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour.

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A gunshot against a shrub. A wild ricochet off the shrub. A call to a rules official for not one but two possible rule violations. A broken driver, even though it was not used. And a player in shock.

“I’ve never broken a driver or a wood or anything like that, so just look over it and see the head of it hanging down, I was just looking at the ball, I was looking at the club and then I looked at my shopping cart, and we were all in shock, and we just had to call a rules officer right away,” Albin Choi said.

In one of the craziest streaks you’ll hear of, Choi finally escaped the par-5 6th at Lakewood National with a par-five in Saturday’s third round of the Korn Ferry Tour’s LECOM Suncoast Classic. But the course was anything but conventional. It started with a left drive, where Choi said his ball landed against a shrub.

From there, hold on.

“Yeah, so I stayed on 6,” Choi explained, “and I was kinda up against a bush and couldn’t really put a club on it – that was a bit of a weird shot, and I got it hit and then unfortunately he hit the shrub right in front of me, and he bounced back and was actually heading towards my shopping cart, he tried to move the bag, he hit the bag, but he dropped it because it all happened so fast and he let her down.

“And the driver was kind of coming out, and he just broke in half and so yeah.”

In effect. What was Choi’s reaction?

“Well, I was coming off a bad bogey, so it wasn’t the best time, I would say,” he said. “And obviously being against the shrub was also a bit of a bad break so I tried my best to stay in the moment and do my best and then obviously the ball hit the bag, the club breaks and and then we’re just standing there not knowing what just happened and – but I made a great par, one of the best pars I’ve made, and then I birdied the next one and then I just went back to follow from there.

Let’s break down the rules that came into play. His caddy’s accidental deflection is covered by rule 11.1a, which was updated in 2019 and now states: “If a player’s ball in motion accidentally hits a person or outside influence: there is no penalty for any player. This is true even if the ball touches the player, opponent or any other player or any of their caddies or equipment.

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As for the driver, Choi was allowed to fix the tree under Model Local Rule G-9, which states: “If a player’s club is “broken or badly damaged” during the round by the player or caddy, except in cases of abuse, the player may replace the club with any club according to the Rule 4.1b(4).” The essential word was “abuse”. It was not, and a Korn Ferry Tour rules official found a replacement tree in the clubhouse, assembled the club on the 7th green, and Choi hit it on the 8th tee.

“Yeah, I think it’s one thing if you get mad or frustrated and break yourself,” Choi said of the rule scenarios, “but it was just kind of a freak accident and everyone in the group saw what happened and luckily the rule changed for the ball hitting the bag because that could have been really bad too.

“It could have just, you know, the driver breaking more penalty shots – I don’t even want to really think about that really. But I would say overall it kind of worked out the best it could. could have had in the situation. And I’m happy with the way I handled it the rest of the day, and we need to make some birdies.

And how did the new driver perform?

“Yeah, I was getting ready to hit a 3 over 8 wood, and I was just trying to think in my mind, I didn’t bring an extra driver, and trying to play this golf course unmanned would be very difficult, so I’m just glad I got something and it worked half decent,” Choi said.

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is an editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories in the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to clear his score. You can contact him about any of these topics – his stories, his game or his beers – at [email protected]