Playing in the final full-field PGA Tour event of the season, Doug Barron let it all hang out on Thursday. Literally.
Mired at 2-over in the first round of the Chrysler Championship, Barron sprayed his drive on the par-4 16th hole to the edge of a water hazard, from which he would play his second shot. Here's where things got ugly. Ostensibly in an effort to keep mud from damaging his white golf shirt -- and without thought to cover the garment with, say, a rain jacket -- Barron removed his shirt, playing a shot back to the fairway with the upper half of his 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame exposed for all to see. The swing left his bare right arm caked in mud, though his shoes, pants and hat -- all of which remained attached to his body -- seemed to go unharmed.
The shot resulted in double-bogey on the hole, and Barron finished with a 3-over 74 score for the day. As for the scene? Let's just say the 37-year-old Barron won't be getting confused for chiseled peers Tiger Woods or Camilo Villegas anytime soon.
For the record, there is no bylaw in the USGA's Rules of Golf which states a player cannot hit a shot while shirtless, and PGA Tour officials said they did not know of any rule that prohibits a player from removing an article of clothing to play a shot.
Perhaps the most famous instance of such an occasion came at the 1993 Colonial, when Ian Baker-Finch stripped down to his boxer shorts in order to play a shot from a hazard.
"I realized I was going to get this gunk all over my trousers, and I thought, 'Ah, I've got boxers on,' " Finch tolf Golf Digest last year. "I took my pants off and jumped down over the bank. From then on, all the girls in the crowd followed me, and they kept singing out on every shot, 'Hit it in the water! Hit it in the water!' "
An eight-year PGA Tour member, Barron certainly proved that desperate times really do call for desperate measures. At 166th on the current money list, he is $262,088 from the 125th spot, which would ensure full playing privileges for 2007, and $102,817 out of 150th place, through which players can receive partial status for next season.
Barron's round started and ended innocuously enough, as he birdied Nos. 1, 2 and 18. In between, however, he made only one other birdie, while supplying his scorecard with three bogeys and two double-bogeys, including that on 16.
Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com