Laney Frye narrowly advances to Augusta National after bizarre water ball on last hole

Laney Frye narrowly advances to Augusta National after bizarre water ball on last hole
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EVANS, Ga. – Laney Frye was hitting balls on the range last month at Long Cove Club, site of the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, one of the top college events of the season. Behind the Kentucky senior was a friend holding up and iPhone. On the other end of a FaceTime call was Frye’s instructor, Ted Scott, who also serves as Scottie Scheffler’s full-time caddie.

“I like hitting a draw,” Frye said, “and I just could not get it to draw.”

Fast forward to Thursday at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and Frye was holding on for dear life in the blustery conditions, just inside the cut line, as she played the final hole of her second round, the par-5 18th at Champions Retreat. Into the fan, Frye and her caddie, local looper Steve Kling, who is also a friend of Scott’s, decided to lay up with 4-iron.

Kling said once Frye made contact – which produced a tight, little draw, by the way – he picked up the bag and was already thinking Frye would have a good chance at a closing birdie. But Frye’s ball landed and immediately kicked hard, dead left and about 45 yards into the nearby lake.

“I thought I played one of my better shots of the day,” Frye said, “and then I was like, ‘What happened?’”

Frye’s ball had hit a sprinkler head, which was located 71 yards from the center of the green. She was forced to drop and failed to get up and down to save par. She did two-putt from about 30 feet from the fringe, got a 4-footer for bogey to drop, and got it in the clubhouse at 3 over, just good enough to advance to Saturday’s final round at Augusta National for the first time.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous over that 4-footer because I missed a couple of them yesterday,” Frye said. “I knew that was my only hope.”

Last year, Scott, who was on the bag for both of Bubba Watson’s Masters wins, was supposed to caddie for Frye had she made it to Saturday, but Frye missed the cut “by a wide margin.” Instead, Scott joined Frye and her dad for a round with a member at Augusta National two weeks ago.

Scott, already in town, texted Frye early on Thursday morning.

“He says, ‘If you need me, I’m here,’” Frye said. “I said, ‘No, I’m feeling OK.’”

She did credit Scott, however, with instilling some extra confidence in her entering this week.

“I struggled with my putting, and I’m looking for something technical, but I think it’s more mental than anything,” Frye said. “He told me something that a friend told him in the pro golf world. Somebody said, Why not me? before every shot. I kind of adopted that mentality. Why not me? Why not now? Could be a great shot. Who is to say it’s not?”

Frye knows she’s eight shots back of leader Lottie Woad, but why not, right?

“You never know what golf will bring,” Frye said. “A decent ways out of it score-wise, but you never know.”

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