The professional jumps over the OB fence and cleverly uses the rules

Sahith Theegala on the 8th hole at Silverado Resort on Thursday.

PGA Tour Live

A failure. A fence. The rules. A jump over a fence. And memories of Phil Mickelson.

Yes, a sequence Thursday at the Fortinet Championship was wild. Yes, if you’ve played Bizarre Golf Bingo, the five statements above might have been on your card.

“This could happen once a year,” a spokesman said on the PGA Tour Live broadcast.

As a matter of fact. Let’s start with the failure here.

That came from Sahith Theegala’s iron off the tee on the par-4 8th at Silverado Resort. As he made his move, he released the bat with his right hand. His ball cut to the right. It settled under a green chain-link fence. A rules official was called.

The questions came.

Was the ball an inbounds? After a quick look at where the ball lay in relation to the fence posts defining the boundary, it was determined that it was still in play. Barely. But close counts. According to Rule 18.2a(2): “A ball at rest is out of bounds only if it is completely outside the boundary edge of the court.” A ball is in play if any part of the ball: on the ground or anything else (e.g (e.g. a natural or artificial object) lies within or touches the boundary edge.”

Could Theegala get a penalty-free exemption from the fence? He could not.

Could he take unplayable relief in one hit? Secure. But the questions continued.

Could he hit it forward? Not really. Theegala and caddy Carl Smith considered this option. Theegala was able to get his bat on the ball under the fence but trees were about 15 yards in front of him.

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Could he hit it backwards, with his back to the fairway? Not really. But Theegala and Smith considered this decision longer than the previous one. Theegala stood on the inbound side of the fence, stretched his right hand over it while holding an iron, and brought it back into play. Yes, that is difficult. Theegala then asked a question of his own, which was picked up by PGA Tour Live microphones.

“Or the other way around is…” Smith began.

“Hop over the fence?” said Theegala.

Really? Could Theegala himself climb over the fence – and out of bounds – and hit the ball that was still in the field?

Yes. It is covered briefly in Rule 18.2a(2), which states: “A player may stand outside the court to play a ball on the court.” So Theegala walked back about 25 yards, climbed the fence and left back to his ball.

“This is unbelievable,” an announcer said on the PGA Tour live broadcast.

“This is the best bit,” said another announcer. “He talks about trying to hit it with one hand or standing on the other side of the fence. I don’t know what we did.”

From there Theegala struck, the ball bounced into the fairway, he climbed back over the fence, threw his ball onto the green and two putts for a bogey five. He finished with a four-under 68 and was four shots better in the second round on Friday.

However, one more question.

We’ve seen this before, right?

Yes, most notably by Phil Mickelson at the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open, where he stepped into a parking lot, turned a hybrid sideways and hit his ball lying under a metal fence, the impact making a distinct clanging sound. Notably, Mickelson’s caddy at the time, Jim “Bones” Mackay, was in the group with Theegala – his current player, Justin Thomas, was just a few meters away.

“JT just walked past me,” an announcer said on the PGA Tour Live broadcast, “and said that Bones probably needed to talk to his other, former boss about more difficult shots than this.”

You can watch Mickelson’s shot below:

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Publisher

Nick Piastowski is a senior editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across golf. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can contact him about any of these topics – his stories, his playing or his beers – at The professional jumps over the OB fence and cleverly uses the rules

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