Annika Sorenstam, John Smoltz and others dish on the time they did (or didn’t) drill a fan in a golf tournament

Last month at the Valspar Championship, rookie Chandler Phillips was in contention to win his first PGA Tour event when his 4-iron at the par-3 seventh hole during the final round headed well right of the green and into a gathering of spectators.

A husband and wife were sitting next to each other and the ball beaned the wife, bouncing off her head and then smashing into the noggin of her husband, a rare two-for-one special.

When Phillips arrived on the scene he noticed he’d gotten an incredible break, his ball kicking out of trouble from a likely bogey to an easy up-and-down for par. That’s when he first saw the ice pack being applied to the husband’s head. A few yards away to the right, Phillips’s caddie, Braden Smith, spied the injured fan’s wife spread out on the ground on her back with a towel drenched in blood compressed to her head.

“Oh, my gosh, that’s not good,” he recalled thinking, and began digging into the bag to get a golf glove for his boss to sign, the go-to way for a player to say, “I’m sorry I hit you.” (Phil Mickelson was known to sign $100 bills.) “I didn’t know what else to do,” Smith said.

Phillips took the bloody scene to heart.

“After that, I wasn’t right,” he said.

Following the round, where he finished a career-best third at a Tour event, he said to the woman who suffered the direct hit, “If she’s seeing this, I’m truly sorry. Obviously I’m not meaning to do that.”

But it happens all the time at professional events. These players are good but they also aren’t immune to the stray shot. At the 2010 Memorial, Tiger Woods hit three spectators in a single day. Just this week at the RBC Heritage, Sepp Straka bloodied a spectator on the first hole at Harbour Town Golf Links and struggled to put it out of mind even if it was out sight.

“That was tough,” he said after his round. “Hopefully I’ll be able to reach out to him this afternoon and see how he’s doing.”

Smoltz: Just a bit outside

John Smoltz could throw a baseball with pinpoint precision from 60 feet, 6 inches. On the few occasions that he hit a batter, he admitted it usually wasn’t by accident.

“I’ve been given instructions to do that,” Smoltz said.

But with a golf ball, it’s a different story.

“I feel terrible if that happens,” he said ahead of playing last week’s Invited Celebrity Classic in Dallas on the PGA Tour Champions. “Luckily, I think it’s only happened one time in my life. And it happened in my very first kind of celebrity golf with Ken Green, Mark Calcavecchia and Lee Trevino. I was actually having the round of my life and I hit somebody who was walking towards the green. I was trying to reach a par five and two, and it hit him and the ball didn’t go on the green so I was a little disappointed about that. But then I saw that it hit somebody and he was laying on the ground and he ended up being OK, but yeah, that’s not a feeling I would even want to have happen.”

Andrade and a cast

Billy Andrade, a competitor in the pro portion of the Invited Celebrity Classic, has struck a couple of fans during his more than three-decade career, including a young girl in the arm at a tournament in Washington D.C.

“She came back the next day with a cast on it and asked me to sign it,” Andrade recalled. “So, of course I signed it, and I gave her like everything I had in my bag. And yeah, it happens and when it does it never feels good.”

Annika and her assistant take one for the team

World Golf Hall of Fame member Annika Sorenstam is considered one of, if not the, best ball strikers of all time. But you’d guess she would have a foul ball or two that’s pelted a fan at some point along the way, right? But Sorenstam claims that she’s never drilled a spectator in all these years.

“Knock on wood, I hope it stays that way,” said Sorenstam, who played in the celebrity division of the Invited Celebrity Classic, too. “But I’ve played in events where somebody has, and it’s not a fun thing. It makes me sick to my stomach.”

In fact, Sorenstam was playing in the LPGA’s Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions event when there was a backup on the par-5 15th hole. “I really didn’t know what was happening and then somebody said that somebody got hit around the green area. And I’m like, ‘Oh, bummer.  I hope they’re OK.’”

After they teed off, Sorenstam found out who got hit: her assistant, Crystal Davis, of all people was the victim. She was out watching her boss with Sorenstam’s daughter, Ava, and she was hit in the leg by a celebrity golfer trying to protect Ava. She succeeded in part of her objective but when her leg swelled quickly, Davis fainted.

“The ball was coming her way, so she jumped in front of (Ava), which is, you know, a case for a raise,” Sorenstam said.

Or at least worthy of an autographed $100 bill.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek