Making cuts on the US PGA Tour is difficult enough with luck on your side. For Kelly Kraft, it got that much harder at the RBC Heritage when he caught one of the unluckiest breaks you’ll see on tour not only this year, but maybe ever.
Standing on the par-3 14th tee, Kraft’s fifth hole of his second round, the 2011 US Amateur winner was even par through four and even par for the tournament, which is where the cut line would end up by day’s end. Kraft struck his tee shot and as it sailed towards the green it struck a “giant, black bird” as he described it to PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit, causing his ball to drop down into the water hazard in front of the green. Kraft went on to make double-bogey en route to a one-over 72, which put him outside the cut line.
“It cost me the cut, most likely,” Kraft said. “There was a helping wind, and I hit a 7-iron, caught it perfect. It was probably 30 yards off the tee box and this giant, black bird swooped in front of it and hit it and the ball fell 20 yards short in the water. It would’ve been in the middle of the green. It might have been close. I got screwed.”
Kraft did his best to battle back, making two birdies and just one bogey on his final 13 holes, but it wasn’t enough to make what would have been his sixth consecutive cut, which would have marked the longest streak of his career.
When it first occurred, Kraft and his playing partners Robert Garrigus and Michael Thompson looked for a favourable ruling, but no dice, according to US PGA Tour rules official Dillard Pruitt.
“The big difference is a bird is a God-made object,” said Pruitt. “Whereas a telephone wire is man-made. It’s just a stroke of bad luck. It doesn’t happen very often, but today is Friday the 13th. Freaky Friday.”
Tough break for Kraft, but he’s not the first tour pro that struck a bird during play. A similar situation happened to Jimmy Walker in 2014 at Colonial, but it actually may have helped Walker’s tee shot. Both Walker and Kraft’s birds flew away unharmed, so there’s that. Quite the Friday the 13th on the US PGA Tour.