News & Tours

Players react to alert of ballistic missile: ‘Grab a Mai Tai, go to the beach, grab a front row seat’

By Brian Wacker
When Jordan Spieth saw an emergency alert on his phone about an inbound ballistic missile threat to Hawaii on Saturday morning, he was at his hotel and started calling his parents and other family members to seek out information. He also thought about what he might do.

“I kind of thought if we had a car maybe drive as far away from town as possible,” he said. “We were inside away from the windows trying to gather information.”

His caddie, Michael Greller, gathered his wife and their three-month-old and thought about doing the same.

Charles Howell III called a friend in the Navy based in the region and the friend told him they were scrambling as well. A few minutes later the friend messaged back saying it was a false alarm.

“At breakfast you could hear the collective [buzz] of [everyone’s] phones,” Howell said. “I kind of froze. We didn’t know what to do. We sort of looked at one another. Part of you thinks you grab a MaiTai, go to the beach and grab a front-row seat. Part of you thinks what are you going to do?”

That was the consensus among most players. No one quite sure what to do.

Matt Every was having breakfast in downtown Honolulu and headed across the street to a golf course, figuring the opening space would be the safest place to be.

Chez Reavie looked out the window of his hotel and saw people running down the street but stayed put with the rationalization that there was nowhere to go.

It took 38 minutes before another alert was issued saying it was a false alarm.

Tony Finau was playing with his kids on his bed when his phone buzzed. He thought it was an Amber alert.

“I popped up and the whole mood changed,” he said. “It was a blessed day. It put in perspective what could happen. Golf was the last thing on most people’s mind when we’re looking at a situation like that.”

Later in the afternoon, he went on to make a hole-in-one, on the par-3 17th. It was the 11th of his life and first on the PGA Tour.

Said Finau: “The roller coaster of emotions was pretty crazy.”

The PGA Tour issued this statement: “In less than four minutes from the initial call from tour staff in Hawaii, we were able to verify that the alert was a mistake and communicate that information to tour leadership and players/staff in Hawaii. Although the incident was understandably upsetting to all involved, we have confirmed there were no injuries to our staff or players, or any further issues of concern.”

 

Golf Digest Middle East

Golf Digest Middle East

Launched in 2008, Golf Digest Middle East is the #1 golf magazine in the region, featuring local content and exclusive articles from the world's leading professionals

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