PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- "Those were two of the best shots of my life!"
Zac Blair was confused, a little angry, but most of all hoping for a little redemption. He had just put two in the drink on the par-3 17th at The Players Stadium Course -- both from the tee box, choosing against moving up and left to the drop zone.
147-yard par 3.
It's now playing as the hardest hole today.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 12, 2017
His original tee shot to the hole was a good one, but a gust of wind caught the ball with about 50 yards left in the flight, pushing it right and long enough to hit land but not long enough to stay on it. The ball trickled back in the water, part of a trio of floaters from him and partners Blayne Barber and Tyrone Van Aswegen. Barber and Van Aswegen had already decided to go to the drop zone, but Blair wanted to give it another crack.
He consulted the flags surrounding the hole. Behind him, they were blowing downwind and slightly right. At the green, they were blowing a little more in and to the right. On top of the crane tower behind 17 green, the American flag and the Arnold Palmer flag were gusting more directly right. Blair put a great swing on the ball -- too good. His ball landed close to the hole but it wouldn't hold on the increasingly firm Sawgrass greens. It ran off the back for another swim.
This time, the deliberation wasn't there. He reached for another ball quickly, teed it up and pegged it on the box. The crowd loved it, cheering Blair's determination. Unfortunately, the third ball was a near mirror image of the second. Well-struck, great flight, long, splash.
Blair had come to the hole 2 over for the tournament and sitting on the cut line as he made his way to his eighth hole of the day. With three in the water, hitting 7 no matter where he chose, Blair knew his week was probably done. Why not hit a fourth?
This time, he aimed a little to the left, finding dry, softer land. The crowd erupted in approval of the result and the effort, chanting "Zac! Zac!" as he doffed his hat in appreciation. He got a similar reception at the green before he two-putted for a sextuple-bogey 9.
Meanwhile, Barber made double-bogey 5 and Van Aswegen got up-and-down for a remarkable bogey. Their score added up to Blair's, whose 9 was still short of Bob Tway's 12 in 2005.
The week was over as he strode to the 18th tee at 8 over for the tournament. All it took was two minutes to turn a potential rally for the weekend into a surefire trunk slam.