ASK the average golfer about the most perilous hazard they have encountered on the course and most will recall their travails in a deep bunker. Pablo Larrazábal’s reply, however, is likely to be far more stinging.
The Spanish golfer has become a viral sensation after footage of him leaping into a lake to escape a swarm of hornets spread across the internet yesterday.
The 30-year-old was playing the fifth hole of the Kuala Lumpur Country Club course during the Malaysian Open when an insect landed on his nose. He swatted it away and positioned to resume his shot.
However, the hornets had other ideas, and descended around him en masse. They then took their revenge, stinging the golfer repeatedly on his face and head. Panicking, Larrazábal did as any professional golfer would do – turn to his caddy for advice.
The message from his trusted aide was curt. “I didn’t know what to do,” Larrazábal recalled. “My caddy told me to run, so I started running like a crazy guy.”
Even as he charged across the fairway to the shock of onlooking spectators, Larrazábal could not outrun his tormentors.
“They were three times the size of bees,” he said of the hornets. “They were huge and 30 or 40 of them started to attack me big time. The hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake.”
Although most golfers try to avoid water hazards at all costs, Larrazábal plunged into the water adjacent to the 14th green to seek a moment of respite.
“I ran to the lake, threw my scorecard down, took off my shoes and jumped in the water,” he explained. “It was the scariest moment of my career, for sure. I’ve never been so scared.”
As the swarm dispersed, Larrazábal emerged gingerly from the water and dried off before putting his shirt back on. The sight of the garment, however, seemed to further antagonise the hornets, and they returned to attack again.
In the end, he was forced to ditch his shirt and the towel he had been using to swat the hornets. He borrowed a new top and stopped his round as the match referee checked on his welfare. A doctor also gave him injections to counter the effects of the multiple stings.
The experience would have seen the majority of players throw in the towel, but the Barcelona native pressed on.
“After the injections, I felt a lot better and could continue,” he said. “Without the help of the referees, I couldn’t have finished. I was in no state to play golf.”
Remarkably, he went on to birdie the par-five hole, eventually finishing the second round with a four under par score of 68.
The performance means the Spaniard made the cut and he added: “It looks like I’ll be playing the weekend, so it will be very, very scary to play that hole. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but hopefully I will play it as quickly as I can.”