I played my second shot on the 4th hole over the ditch and it went towards the two trees to the right hand side of the fairway. What I failed to realise was the large quantity of fallen leaves which lay under the trees. After a few minutes searching, I took a club and a second ball and ran (well jogged) back to the spot I played the shot from and dropped and hit the ball. On walking back towards the ditch my playing partners shouted they had found my original ball.
Was I entitled to play my original ball now it was found? – well no. I had played a second ball and as soon as I hit it, it became the ball in play. I could not declare the second ball “a Provisional ball” because you must play it before you go forward to search for the original ball. (27-2a) When you go back to play the second ball, it becomes the ball in play even if you subsequently find your original ball.
Grin and bear it … and damn the leaves!