Some say the opening hole of a tournament is the most challenging for an amateur golfer.
Jim Stryker might argue that the second hole is the one that can really jump up and bite you.
That's because the 68-year-old retired accountant was struck in the forehead by his playing partner's second shot on the 11th hole at Quail Creek Golf Club, his second hole of the day, during the opening round of the Golf.com World Amateur Hadicap Championship on Monday.
"It knocked me right to the ground," Stryker says. "But then I got right back up again."
After hitting his tee shot into the right rough on the 475-yard par-5, Stryker, a 27.2-handicapper, pulled his second shot near the tree line on the left, jumped in his cart, and buzzed up ahead of his playing partners to look for his ball. Moments after hopping out to begin his search, Stryker's competitor yanked his own approach shot -- and Stryker never saw it coming.
"It hurt," Stryker says. "And I've got to replace my glasses."
The glasses may have saved him from a more serious injury. Stryker was immediately taken to a hospital, where he collected several stitches. (He's not sure how many, but he invited me to try to count them. I declined.) He also received a CT scan, and, once the tests came back clean, a lift back to Quail Creek. With a tournament official riding shotgun, Stryker finished his round more than eight hours after his opening tee shot. He shot a 101.
Stryker is no stranger to long afternoons at the World Am. He resides in Georgetown County, 30 miles south of Myrtle Beach, and has played in the event for 13 years. He has enough memories to fill up several scorecards, including a great tale about a man from Italy who shot a cool 184 one day at the World Am a few years ago.
"I'm an easy-going person when it comes to athletics," he says. "This really is a good event, for old people especially, but also for couples."
Despite that detour to the hospital, Stryker was in high spirits on Monday evening, and he looked forward to continuing in the competition.
"I had a good time -- except for the enormous owie." (Photo courtesy of Chris King.)