Koepka's birdie might be unlikeliest of 2015

February, 27, 2015

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- "Anything left here is fine."

Those were the last words of instruction caddie Rickey Elliott gave to his player, Brooks Koepka, in the fairway on the par-5 18th hole Friday at the Honda Classic.

As soon as Koepka made contact, it was clear his golf ball was heading toward the grandstands, well left of the putting surface.

Marshalls yelled, "Fore!"

Spectators ducked and covered their heads.

The golf ball careened off the stands.

Everyone looked up watching as the ball shot above them and hit the roof of the structure. They waited, looked and held their breath, but the ball never came back down -- at least not on the side of the chalets where the green is.

Standing behind the putting surface everyone watched as Koepka walked under the rope and out through a public access tunnel followed by his caddie.

"Is he quitting?" asked a police officer standing behind the green.

It's then that people realized the golf ball had rolled over the roof and was on the practice green side of the tent.

Walking up to where the ball was, Koepka looked at me and said, "Mikey, you got a yardage from here?"

Everyone around started laughing.

"Yeah of course!" I said. "That's why caddies get out and walk the course on Mondays for this specific reason. If your caddie has a yardage from here ... "

That made Koepka and Elliott laugh.

"I'd really love to play this. Like Phil remember?" Koepka said.

"Yeah, but this is harder cause Phil could see and had a perfect lie," I said.

"I wonder how they're going to tell the rules official where to find me?" Koepka replied.

That brought out even more laughter and two minutes later an extremely confused looking PGA Tour rules official Robbie Ware appeared. They left the caddie standing there guarding the golf ball while trying to figure out where on the other side of the huge tent to make the drop.

About five minutes went by and then a man ran over yelling at Elliott to bring the bag as they took a drop.

"Mike, I'll mark the ball, will you watch the spot just in case?" he asked me.

"You got it," I said, forgetting that meant I might miss the third shot.

After about two minutes, I walked through a tunnel behind the green just in time to see Koepka lining up what I hope is a birdie putt. From 22 feet away the ball rolled dead center and the crowd erupted.

Playing competitors Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson both shook their heads smiling and laughing as Koepka took off his cap, bowing to the crowd at the most improbable birdie of the year so far on the PGA Tour.

Michael Collins

ESPN Senior Writer


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