GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Someone was looking down on Karl Vilips Tuesday night. While having fun on Sage Valley Golf Club’s lighted dormie holes a couple of days before the Junior Invitational, the 15-year-old Australian heard someone yell “fore!”
About 150 yards behind him, Jacob Bergeron had just struck a 9-iron – and it was heading right for Vilips.
“It all happened so fast,” Vilips said. “The ball hits your head and in a millisecond you just don’t know what happened.”
At first, Vilips stood there in shock. Then he took his hat off and felt the top of his head. Blood. Lots of blood.
A couple of players nearby, Cole Hammer and Ricky Castillo, rushed to get help. Bergeron ran up to check on his friend. Quickly, a medic was with Vilips.
“That really shook me up,” Bergeron said. “I felt so bad. Karl is a great friend of mine. He’s a really great player and a great kid. The first thought that came into my head was, ‘I just killed him.’ ”
Fortunately, Vilips was all right. He didn’t need stitches. He didn’t get a concussion, either. Just a painful bump on the head.
“It hit me in a good spot,” Vilips said. “If it hit me anywhere else, it could’ve been disastrous. I’m really lucky.”
Said Bergeron: “He handled it better than I would have. He showed a lot of maturity for sure. And I’m glad he was able to play this week. Because that was my second thought, is that he wouldn’t be able to play.”
Vilips played, and played well. The Stanford commit shot even-par 72 despite closing his round in bogey-bogey. The bump? “It didn’t affect the way I played, at all,” Vilips said.
“I’m only five back,” the young Aussie added. “Let’s see if I can do something tomorrow. It’s definitely out there; I’m playing good right now.”
Bergeron played nicely, too. The LSU signee was 5 under through 11 holes before four bogeys in his final six holes left him with an opening 71.
“I couldn’t ask for too much better, really,” Bergeron said.
An under-par opening round around a tough Sage Valley and his friend not being seriously hurt? Bergeron couldn’t have spoken truer words.