Philadelphia, PA – Last week a golfer in Waterloo, Ill., vanished into a sinkhole on the 14th hole at the Annbriar Golf Course. It was just one of several strange golf-related incidents to occur this season.
And ... back to the sinkhole. These natural geological depressions have had their moments of late. Two weeks ago, the earth opened under the bedroom of Floridian Jeff Bush. The 37-year-old vanished into the void along with his dresser, his TV and most of his bed. His body was never recovered.
Mark Mihal was more fortunate. The mortgage broker from St. Louis was in the fairway on No. 14, checking distance for his playing partner ... and then, he wasn't.
"I felt the ground start to collapse and it happened so fast that I couldn't do anything," Mark said in a report from his blog, golfmanna. "I reached for the ground as I was going down and it gave way, too. It seemed like I was falling for a long time. The real scary part was I didn't know when I would hit bottom and what I would land on."
Mihal hit the bottom after an 18-foot drop, separating his shoulder in the process. After about 20 minutes in the 10-foot wide chasm, the victim was lifted to safety by a member of his foursome, Ed Magaletta, who dropped into the hole on a rope and hoisted Mark onto a ladder which dangled just out of reach.
While Mihal's ordeal was undoubtedly harrowing (his wife Lori recounted on golfmanna that her husband was well aware of the Jeff Bush tragedy), it was likely wildly surreal for his playing partners as well.
Apparently, Magaletta and Hank Martinez saw Mark fall, but they thought he had rolled down a hill, as they were some distance away.
Imagine turning around on the course and your buddy has vanished. You'd think maybe he was, ahem, going to the bathroom behind a tree or grabbing a beverage from the cart. The last thing you'd expect is that he was devoured by the course itself.
POISINOUS SPIDER BITE
The LPGA Tour has seen its share of strange incidents in 2013. This one is pretty awesome.
Swedish golfer Daniela Holmqvist was hitting out of the rough on the fourth hole during qualifying for the season-opening Women's Australian Open when she was bit by what observers speculated was a black widow spider.
After swatting away the arachnid, Holmqvist noticed the bite swelling, so she used a golf tee to slice open the affected area and squeeze out the venom.
"A clear fluid came out. It wasn't the prettiest thing I've ever done, but I had to get as much of it out of me as possible," she told Svensk Golf magazine.
Amazingly, Holmqvist finished her round. Although she carded a 74 and failed to qualify for the tournament, the 24-year-old forever cemented herself as a genuine sporting warrior. Paying attention, Rory?
CAR ACCIDENT/MALARIA WITHDRAWAL
File these two LPGA incidents under frightening.
The Tour's Asian Swing produced some scary moments this season, starting with a five-car pileup after the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand, which left Paula Creamer and Ai Miyazato with whiplash. Suzann Pettersen and her mother were in a car that narrowly avoided the accident.
Creamer, who tweeted that she "felt like a ping pong ball" during the wreck, managed a third-place finish the following week at the HSBC Women's Champions, but Miyazato was forced to withdraw due to lingering effects.
Creamer and Miyazato are back in the field this week for the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, but Natalie Gulbis is out. She contracted malaria in Singapore and withdrew on Tuesday.
According to a statement released by the Tour and Gulbis' management firm IMG, she "is on appropriate medications, under great care and her prognosis is excellent." She is expected to "be at full strength in three weeks."
Here's to a full and speedy recovery.
Of note, the Founders Cup's founding partner, Scottsdale Healthcare, was on- site Wednesday drawing blood for players, caddies and family members wishing to be screened for the disease.
Rory McIlroy's Honda Classic withdrawal is old news, but the circumstances are certainly strange.
Coming off a missed cut and a first-round match play loss, the world No. 1 and defending champion walked off the course during the second round after carding a pair of bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey in his first eight holes. He initially told reporters that he was "not in a good place mentally" before changing his tune and blaming a sore wisdom tooth.
Still, Rory dealt with the backlash, fired a final-round 65 at Doral and finished in a tie for eighth. He may be turning a corner, and that's a good thing for the game.
Golf is typically a fair-weather sport, but nature refused to play ball early this season.
From the jump, the elements wreaked havoc, starting with the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which was pushed to a Monday start and reduced to 54 holes as heavy winds battered the Plantation Course at Kapalua. Balls rolled off greens and hats tumbled down fairways ... and that was just a sign of things to come.
Tiger Woods' seventh win at the Farmers Insurance Open was delayed until Monday due to heavy fog, and Matt Kuchar's Accenture Match Play Championship victory was nearly overshadowed by, of all things, snow ... in Arizona.
I'm thankful the conditions have improved, and don't worry, I'm not going to make a locusts joke.
CHUCK TURNS 50
Charles Barkley turned 50 in February and while the Round Mound of Rebound's birthday isn't unusual, his golf swing sure is.
Anything to show (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s50K65PNeBU) this clip, right?
NO SURPRISE HERE
You know, with all the bizarre incidents occurring over the last few months, Tiger is still dominating the headlines. That, of course, isn't strange in the least.