PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Charl Schwartzel’s wrist is a little sore, but some quick reflexes prevented further injury after a freak accident during the Valspar Championship pro-am.
Schwartzel is the defending champ at Innisbrook, having defeated Bill Haas in a playoff last year for his first PGA Tour win since the 2011 Masters. He was left of the 10th fairway, his first hole of the day, when one of his amateur partners hit a shot that ricocheted off a nearby tree.
The ball came straight for Schwartzel, who put his arms down quickly to deflect it.
“I’ve played golf for 28 years now and I’ve never been hit by a golf ball, until this morning,” Schwartzel said. “It was a bit of a fluke. Really bad luck.”
Schwartzel said one of the tendons in his left wrist began to swell, and that his hand went numb shortly after he was hit. He played nine more holes of the pro-am before calling it quits, but still expects to make his 7:56 a.m. ET tee time Thursday when he begins his title defense alongside Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson.
“I never pulled out of a tournament with an injury after I’ve started. I’m planning on playing, whether I have to limp around or not, I’ll tee off,” he said. “I just hope it’s not something serious because I feel like I’m playing really well and I want to play. I don’t want to now have to sit out because of this silly injury.”
As for the amateur partner that hit the shot in question, Schwartzel said there’s no hard feelings.
“He feels very bad. But you know, it’s not his fault,” Schwartzel said. “He hit it forward, it hit the tree and it came bouncing back at some speed. I’m just happy, it was going for my private parts and hit a little stop. I think I’ve got better on my reflexes.”