Spectators may well attend golf tournaments with the vague, minor worry of getting hit by an errant ball, but that's rarely a concern for pro golfers.
That was, however, before Aaron Wise was unexpectedly struck by a Cameron Smith tee shot during the second round of the US PGA Championship.
The bizarre event took place when world No.4 Smith smashed his drive on the par-four second 316 yards. Unfortunately for him, and even more so for Wise, the Australian drilled the tee shot so far right that it went over the spectators and trees and hit Wise flush on the head while lining up a shot on the adjacent seventh fairway.
What could have been a nasty situation was, luckily, just a slightly painful one for world No.91 Wise. The American, winner of the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson, was able to gather his senses and get up to his feet not long after, before applying a cold water bottle to his head to ease the pain.
“I was walking down seven, surprised my ball was in the fairway, and then next thing you know, I mean there's a little bit of ringing in my head,” Wise said. “I was down on the fairway. But you know, that happened for maybe 20 seconds, and I was pretty normal after that.”
The shock didn't seem to affect Wise too much as he not only parred the hole he was hit on but also the eighth and, having registered a one-under 69 on day one, was able to make it back to the clubhouse with a second round 72. That left him on one-over for the championship, well inside the cutline, albeit 10 strokes off leader Will Zalatoris.
“I had a great up and down on seven and eight,” Wise said. “You know, obviously, there's a lot of adrenaline in the body after something like that happens. I was just trying to calm myself down and get back to being somewhat normal for the last few holes.”
Cam Smith’s tee shot on the 2nd hole hit Aaron Wise in the head on the fly. Here’s ESPN+ Featured groups coverage talking about it pic.twitter.com/TYeLjxV11J
— The Fried Egg (@the_fried_egg) May 20, 2022
“Thankfully, he's fine,” Joel Dahmen, his playing partner, said. "It was a glancing blow, but the ball took off another 40 or 50 yards down the fairway. It ended up in the rough. You could hear it. All the spectators heard it. It was loud. ”
Dahmen was adamant that Smith was not to blame. “It was so far away, and there's so many people and the wind is blowing,” he added. “You're not going to be able to hear it if anyone says fore. I don't fault Cam for that at all. One hundred people could have yelled fore, and you wouldn't hear it.”
Having signed his scorecard Wise sought medical attention and was later seen holding an ice pack to his head. Later his management issued a statement saying he was fine and looking forward to Saturday's third round.
“Aaron is doing well and in good spirits after being hit today,” his management team said. “We’ll be monitoring his condition overnight but he looks forward to competing tomorrow.”
Smith, The Players champion, is still in touch on two-under after a 70.