[PHOTO: Julio Aguilar]

PGA Tour rookie Chandler Phillips recorded the best finish of his fledgling career yesterday, his nine-under, four-day total good for a tie for third at the Valspar Championship. As strong a showing as that is for a young gun on tour, it looks particularly impressive given the scary incident that happened midway through his final round.

On Sunday evening (US time), Phillips relayed that “he wasn’t right” after the eighth hole in his last go-around of Innisbrook’s Copperhead course. His scorecard displays a par at the 244-yard par 3, but what occurred had nothing to do with his score on the hole.

“I was kind of, I don’t know, man, I hit somebody,” Phillips said. “I hit actually two people, and the lady that I hit didn’t look too good.”

Phillips, who held the 36-hole lead and was playing with former university teammate Cameron Champ on in the final round, began his day with an eagle and was one-under through seven holes before the incident happened. Phillips said he didn’t see his approach at the eighth, but was told it “ricocheted” off a woman before hitting another spectator.

“I walked up and I saw a guy, he was holding an ice pack on the back of his head,” Phillips explained. “Then I got up there and then I see four or five people crowded around the lady, and I saw blood. I don’t know where it hit her; I just wanted to make sure that they had called EMS or something out here, trainers, do whatever they can to help her out. But I didn’t even get to talk to her or anything like that. I really hope that she’s doing OK.”

Phillips got up-and-down on the hole and said he tried to keep his concentration, but admitted that he “kind of lost it for a handful of holes”. To his credit, after bogeying the ninth, Phillips played the second nine in two-under that gave him his first top 10 of his career.

Alas, it was clear his fortune was far from his mind after the round.

“It’s hard to explain. It’s just, the last thing you want to do is hurt somebody out here,” Phillips said. “We’re just trying to have fun and play golf, and all they’re trying to do is watch some good golf, and when that happens, it sucks.”

If there is a silver lining, Phillips is coming into this week’s Houston Open – which is about an hour from his birthplace and 90 minutes from his College Station residence – with momentum on his side.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my friends get kicked out,” Phillips said. “They’re pretty rowdy. But, no, they’re going to come out and the family’s going to be there, and yeah, I’m excited. Especially coming off of this.”

Phillips, 27, is currently 73rd in the FedEx Cup standings.