Jacksonville University golfer David Wicks had a choice to make on Wednesday at an NCAA regional in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Either he could strip down to his underwear and jump into a pond to find his ball, or he could take a two-stroke penalty.
An NCAA championship berth was on the line, so you can guess which path Wicks took.
The unplanned dip was all because of what Dolphins Coach Mike Blackburn called "a stroke of bad luck," which is underselling it. The Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner has the tale of woe:
"On the fourth hole at LSU's University Club, his 13th of the day, senior David Wicks marked his 3-footer for par and waited for the other two players in his group to finish out. He crouched on a steep bank to read his putt, but as he stood up and reached for the ball in his right front pocket, he dropped it.
"Of course, it didn't just fall straight down. No, it kicked off the back of his shoe, rolled off the green, around a bulkhead, and after a brief chase he watched it tumble into the water on the left side of the green."
Golf's sometimes bizarre rules state that Wicks needed to find his original ball or be assessed a two-stroke penalty, so into the pond he went.
"It was warm," Wicks told Lavner. "Nice temperature. If I had a nice inflatable and a Diet Coke, it would have been a lovely afternoon."
Alas, it was not a fruitful trip into the drink. Wicks found about 30 balls but none of them were his, and he ended up eating the penalty for a double-bogey 6.
However, he recovered with five straight pars to end his round, helping the Dolphins force a sudden-death playoff with Northwestern. And, in part because of two more pars from Wicks on the extra holes, Jacksonville qualified for its first NCAA final after starting the day six strokes back.
"I was determined to redeem myself," Wicks said. "I was worried that everyone would remember my college career as the guy who lost us a spot at nationals. That wasn't the way I was going to go out."