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What club do you use to hit a croc?

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Pablo Larrazabal, left, of Spain, jumps into a lake after being attacked by a swarm of hornets during the second round of the Malaysian Open golf tournament at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, April 18, 2014.

JOSHUA PAUL / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Pablo Larrazabal, left, of Spain, jumps into a lake after being attacked by a swarm of hornets during the second round of the Malaysian Open golf tournament at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, April 18, 2014.

As any weekend duffer can tell you, there are lots of hazards on your average golf course.

Not only can sand traps and ponds ruin a lovely round, but there's always a chance an errant golf ball or a misguided back swing will take out a few teeth.

You don't have to tell that to Spanish golfer Pablo Larrazabal, who is ranked 65th in the world and has seen just about every golfing hazard imaginable in his 10 years as a professional.

On the other hand, Larrazabal had never seen anything like what he encountered on Good Friday during the second round of the Malaysian Open. One moment, he was innocently swatting an insect away from his face; the next, he was being attacked by an angry swarm of hornets.

"They were three times the size of bees," the 30-year-old Spaniard told reporters of the attack, which quickly went viral. "They were huge and like 30 or 40 of them started to attack me big time. I didn't know what to do.

"My caddie told me to run, so I start running like a crazy guy, but the hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake."

After medical treatment and some dry clothes, he went on to birdie the hole he was on when the attack occurred -- the 14th -- and carded a four-under 68 for the round.

Was it the most bizarre assault ever on a golf course. We'll let you decide after perusing five of the weirdest ones we've uncovered:

 

5) The course: California's CordeValle Golf Club

The hazard: A wiener-wielding lunatic

The scorecard: The world's No. 1 golfer has had tons of abuse thrown his way over the years, but this was the first time Tiger Woods had been attacked with a hotdog. It was the final round of the 2011 Frys.com Open and Tiger was lining up a 19-foot birdie putt at the par-three seventh hole when the drama began. According to news reports and viral video of the incident, an unidentified fan ran onto the edge of the green shouting, "TIGER! TIGER!" before hurling the hotdog into the air. The attacker never got closer than 12 metres to Woods and his misguided meat missile fell at least six metres short. Tiger was unscathed and later said: "I turned around and the hotdog was in the air. I don't know how he tried to throw it, but I was kind of focusing on my putt when he started yelling." The bozo was arrested and escorted off the course. Tiger's playing partner, Arjun Atwal of India, said the dog flew across Tiger's putting line. "The bun kind of landed right where he (the man) was," Atwal recalled. "Just the dog flew out." In the end, Tiger did OK in the tournament, but his attacker was the real wiener.

 

4) The course: The O'Donnell Golf Club in Palm Springs, Calif.

The hazard: A mountain lion

The scorecard: Just last month, Sal Corona, the 36-year-old manager of the golf course, was closing the front gate for the night when he heard a strange rustling in nearby bushes. "Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this cat leaping toward me," Corona later told the media of the heart-stopping March 28 incident. "If I hadn't seen him for another two seconds, he probably would've got me." Some people would have died of an instant heart attack, but Sal Corona isn't "some people." He blocked himself from the large predator with part of the gate, then raised his arms and made "big cat noises" in a bid to scare the mountain lion away. The predator made eye contact with the frightened course manager, then puffed its chest out, before turning around and running off into the hilltops. The state's department of fish and wildlife is now warning golfers seeking birdies and eagles to also be on the lookout for mountain lions.

3) The course: Australia's Royal Canberra Golf Club

The hazard: A venomous spider

The scorecard: Swedish golfer Daniela Holmqvist was trying to qualify for the LPGA Tour's season-opening Women's Australian Open back in February, 2013, when she felt a sharp pain on her ankle while hitting out of the rough on the fourth hole. Looking down, she swatted a spider away and was warned by onlookers it might have been a black widow. So she quit playing and raced to a hospital. Just kidding. What she really did was grab a golf tee and use it to pierce the swelling, squeeze out the venom, then go on to finish the match. "A clear fluid came out," Holmqvist later told Svensk Golf magazine. "It wasn't the prettiest thing I've ever done, but I had to get as much of it out of me as possible." Tournament officials said she was likely bitten by a redback, which is also dangerous. The plucky Holmqvist completed her round under the supervision of medical staff, but sadly failed to qualify for the Open. Still, thanks to her heroic self-medication she earned a serious reputation for toughness. "Badass was what I was going for," she later tweeted. Works for us.

 

2) The course: Hans Merensky Country Club in South Africa

The hazard: A rogue elephant

The scorecard: In one of the most horrifying incidents ever recorded on a golf course, a German tourist was killed in October 1998, when she was trampled by a rogue elephant on the resort's 16th hole. News reports at the time varied, saying the attack either occurred in front of 58-year-old Rita Hahn's horrified husband and son, or as she golfed with her daughter. The golf course borders South Africa's premier game reserve, the Kruger National Park, from where the elephant is believed to have escaped after breaking down a fence. A post-mortem showed the Stuttgart resident was killed instantly by the bull elephant, which was ordered destroyed.

 

1) The course: Iberostar Cancun Golf Club in Mexico

The hazard: A hungry 12-foot crocodile

The scorecard: When it comes to water hazards, Toronto engineer Dougie Thomson knows a thing or two. In Mexico for a wedding in November 2013, the 58-year-old Scottish immigrant and his buddies decided to enjoy a relaxing game of golf -- a round that ended with Thomson needing 200 stitches to close a gaping wound in his thigh. The wildlife ordeal began just after the father of two played a bunker shot near some bushes in front of a tropical lagoon. "I took a shot and it landed on the green," Thomson recalled later. "Then I heard this noise behind me and this huge crocodile snapped me by the thigh. I couldn't feel the pain. I was in total shock. It was like a big toy, big black eyes looking at me. Hitting it was like hitting a brick wall." The croc started to drag Hamilton to the water, but the rest of Thomson's foursome came riding to the rescue, walloping the beast with golf clubs and driving over it with their golf cart. "My leg is a complete mess," Thomson said from hospital. "It's only by the grace of God I'm alive -- and I'm an atheist. If my friends hadn't seen what was happening, I would have just disappeared." On the upside, the Toronto resident is welcome to a free round if he decides to play there again.

We'd love to tell you about the golfer in India who was almost gobbled up by a giant python, but we're out of space. So our message to you weekend golfers is this: If you decide to pull out the clubs this spring, remember, it's a jungle out there. And let's all learn a lesson from Pablo Larrazabal -- if someone tells you to go jump in a lake, just do it.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 26, 2014 D2

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