"You get a bad feeling in your stomach," Garcia said. "You try to forget it, but it always takes you maybe 10 or 15 minutes to kind of forget about it.
"I think it's worse when you see the guy down and you can see that he's down. If at least you can see the guy and talk to him and see that he's OK, you feel a little better. Not great, but you feel a little better."
Whitfield was conscious throughout and tried to make light of the situation, telling Kim he was not seriously injured and to go "win the tournament." Coincidently or not, Kim struggled to a 2-over 72 and dropped into a tie for second, three shots behind Garcia, his third-round playing partner.
"I mean, seeing that guy -- I thought I killed him," said Kim, who insisted the incident didn't affect the way he played. "It was an awful feeling to look down and see a golf-ball-sized impression in his forehead and it's cut open. It was probably the nastiest thing I've ever seen."
He signed a golf ball and glove and gave it to Whitfield as he was being loaded into an emergency vehicle.
"I'll give you as many balls and clubs as you want," Kim told the prone man. "You want my bag?"
Finding a prominent player who hasn't hit a spectator is the equivalent of locating the Holy Grail. Phil Mickelson nicked so many, they made a tongue-in-cheek television commercial for a national hotel chain about it. In fact, earlier in the week, after Mickelson scattered the crowd with a wild tee shot, caddie Jim Mackay joked to the fans, "Have you seen our Crowne Plaza commercial?"
Mickelson famously hit a guy on the wrist two years ago, walked over and gave the guy $200 in cash to pay for the damage to his wristwatch.
Immelman drew a huge crowd playing recently in Ireland with Retief Goosen and native son Padraig Harrington, accidentally hit a man in the eye and shattered his glasses. The man was cut and went down, but insisted he was OK.
The next morning, there was a photo and story on the man, whom Immelman estimated to be in his 60s, in the local paper. Immelman later ran into the man, who thanked him profusely for making him famous.
"I mean, how tough are the Irish?" Immelman said, laughing. "I thought I had killed him."
Even for the best players, it can get claustrophobic out there at times. Immelman says that when a fan leans over the gallery ropes near a cramped tee box to get a better view, it can make a player think twice. Fans, of course, are under the impression that the players never hit balls that sideways. Which is usually true.
"That can be disconcerting," Immelman said.
Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer hit a shot off the heel of his driver at an Australian event several years ago into the face of a spectator who was perhaps 50 yards from the tee. Australian veteran Robert Allenby once hit a wayward shot in Houston that hit a bald man squarely on top of the head on the fly and caromed another 100 yards, like it had hit a cart path.
"He was fine," Allenby said. "He obviously had a hard head. He went down like a sack of potatoes but sprang right back up in a second. Amazing."
Nobody has hit more fans over the years than Tiger Woods -- mainly because nobody has more bodies following him. Woods doesn't so much play golf as he does snooker, with bumpers around every fairway and green to deflect his wayward shots back into play.
He won a title at Bay Hill seven years ago when a rolling hook, headed out of bounds on the 18th hole of the final round, hit a man in the neck and dropped straight down. With the huge reprieve, Woods made a spectacular birdie to beat Mickelson by a shot.
Most of the time, the strays cause far more excitement than damage. Nick Price hit a shot into the gallery at the Masters in 2002 that hit a man in the back, then caromed into the hood of a woman's windbreaker, where it remained until a rules official happened by.
Price, knowing he was about to receive a free drop, playfully walked the woman a few yards toward the fairway so he'd get a better lie on his next shot, drawing huge laughs.
For the players, an attempt at levity can't hurt. One hole before Kim kayoed Whitfield, Garcia had fanned his tee shot into the gallery on No. 8, hitting a spectator, who was unhurt. When Garcia got to the spot and found his ball, he asked if everybody was OK.