Tree branch falls at Baltusrol; three injured

Updated: August 12, 2005, 5:44 PM ET
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- A candelabra-shaped branch some 40 feet high snapped off at the trunk of a tree to the left of Baltusrol's fourth green, injurying three people during the second round of the PGA Championship Friday.

With fans lined up several bodies deep to watch Tiger Woods, two network TV technicians working in the shade of the tree and one spectator suffered injuries.

Baltusrol tree
Fans and tournament officials inspect the tree that lost a limb during play on Friday.

According to the PGA of America, Frank Choy, a Turner/CBS Sports employee who was operating a boom microphone, broke his left femur and was transported to Overlook Hospital in Summit. A second worker for the network, assistant technician Bob Welsch, suffered a left leg injury, but was treated on site and released.

The spectator, a 60-year-old man who did not wish to have his name released, suffered minor contusions to his left arm and was treated and released from the medical office at Baltusrol, according to a PGA release.

"There was immediate support at the scene by our medical support staff," said Dr. William Tansey of the Summit Medical Group.

"The tree, which is a red oak, was inspected and limbed before the start of the PGA Championship and construction of the greenside TV tower near hole No. 4," tournament director Andy Bush said. "As a precautionary measure, the tree will be removed after completion of the second round."

The branch landed on a lower branch and stopped short of hitting the ground, suspended in mid-air, its leaves brushing the ground. A long boom microphone with a TV camera attached to it could be found peeking out from beneath the fallen branch.

"Like slow motion, it just came down," said Bruce Feld, a marshal near the green.

After dumping his tee ball in the pond fronting the par-3 hole, Woods had just hit his third shot onto the back of the right side of the green. As the ball backed up toward the flag, a loud, two-note crack sounded from off the left edge of the oblong green.

"I didn't see anything," marshal Robert Keasbey said. "As Tiger's ball was spinning back, everybody was ooh-ing and aah-ing. You heard the cracking and you turn back."

Marshals and medical personnel nearby rushed to the base of the tree, followed shortly by members of the club's greenskeeping staff. Woods and his playing partners, Michael Campbell and Kevin Sutherland, stood with their caddies on the upper left side of the two-tiered green, watching the scrum of people gathered near the tree for some two or three minutes. Then they putted out and walked past the tree to the fifth tee.

The marshals then cleared out the area and play resumed.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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