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Sony Open in Hawaii

While co-leading on 72nd hole, Carl Yuan sails ball toward grandstand, receives favorable free drop

January 14, 2024
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Michael Reaves

The final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii already was sufficiently dramatic, when one of five co-leaders hit a second shot at the par-5 18th at Waialae Country Club that, well, mysteriously disappeared.

Carl Yuan, seeking to become the first Chinese player to win on the PGA Tour, was 16 under par and tied with Keegan Bradley, Russell Henley, Byeong Hun An and Grayson Murray.

He hit his tee shot at 18 into a bunker left of the fairway, leaving him 239 yards to the hole. His second shot sailed wide right toward the grandstand running parallel to the fairway and vanished.

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Even slow-motion television replays on Golf Channel failed to show where the ball descended, whether it cleared the grandstand or bounced off the tented roof. Apparently his ball was never located, though fans reportedly confirmed to rules officials, who relayed the information to television producers, it had hit the grandstand roof.

Given that the grandstand was a temporary immovable obstruction, Yuan was given a free drop in front of it, leaving him a pitch of 45 yards to the hole. He hit his third shot 15 feet past the hole, then took two putts for a par.

It briefly enabled him to retain a share of the lead, though he eventually finished a stroke behind. Still, he tied for fourth, equalling his best finish on the PGA Tour.