The Road Hole at St Andrews is among the toughest and most crucial holes in Major championship history. Tournaments have been won and lost at the iconic, demanding par 4. Jordan Spieth provided the prime example of the hole’s knack for deciding the Open in 2015, when he made a bogey that kept him out of a three-man playoff and ended his chances of the calendar-year grand slam. That same year, according to Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner, the 17th was the most difficult hole since the Open began keeping the statistic in 1982.
In other words, the last thing the 17th needed was an added challenge, something 18-time European Tour winner Mark James received on Thursday in the Senior Open Championship at the Old Course. After going out in three-over 39, James fought back and arrived at the 17th tee at two-over par, which is currently well out of contention but still in the mix to make the cut. Those chances got much slimmer when James struck his tee shot and it hit a seagull mid flight, causing the ball to cruelly ricochet out-of-bounds:
Unluckiest golf shot of the year?
— Staysure Tour (@StaysureTour) July 26, 2018
We’ll spare you the “not the birdie he was looking for” joke and just say that’s an awful break, and not the first time it’s happened to a professional golfer this year. This past April at Harbour Town, Kelly Kraft’s tee shot on the par-3 14th also struck a bird in mid-air, causing the ball to drop into a water hazard. Although Kraft would end up missing the cut by a shot, he still saved bogey. James was not as fortunate, making a triple-bogey en-route to a five-over 77, which currently has him tied for 122nd, nine off the lead.
No word on the seagull’s status, but we’re assuming it’s not good. We’ll see if that prompts another response from PETA like it did for Kraft.