A Provisional Ball can be played for only two reasons:
1) A ball that may be lost outside a hazard.
2) A ball that may be out of bounds.
After having played a provisional ball, the provisional must be abandoned if your original ball is found within 5 minutes of searching. Doesn't matter who finds it or whether of not you actually want someone to find it.
However, if you continue to play your provisional, making a stroke at your provisional from a place where the original is likely to be, or a place closer to the hole than that place, then your original is lost. Once you have done this, doesn't matter if the original ball is subsequently found within the 5 minute search period, it's still deemed to be lost.
Here are 3 decisions that address some of the things that can come up when dealing with the above.
WHEN PROVISIONAL BALL BECOMES BALL IN PLAY
Continuation of Play with Provisional Ball Without Searching for Original Ball
Q.At a par-3 hole, a player hits his tee shot into dense woods. He then hits a provisional ball which comes to rest near the hole. In view of the position of the provisional ball, the player does not wish to find his original ball. He does not search for it and walks directly towards his provisional ball to continue play with it. His opponent (or fellow-competitor) believes it would be beneficial to him if the original ball were found. May the opponent (or fellow-competitor) search for the player's ball?
A.Yes. In equity (Rule 1-4), he may search for five minutes provided that in the meantime the player does not play a stroke with the provisional ball, it being nearer the hole than the place where the original ball is likely to be. The player is entitled to play such a stroke. If he does, the original ball is then lost under Rule 27-2b and further search for it would serve no purpose. In match play, if the player so proceeds and his provisional ball is closer to the hole than his opponent's ball, his opponent may recall the stroke (Rule 10-1c). However, recalling the stroke would not change the status of the original ball, which was lost when the provisional ball was played out of turn. See also Decision 27-2c/2.
Ball Believed to Be Original Found; Player Wishes to Ignore It and Continue Play with Provisional Ball
Q.At a par-3 hole, a player plays his tee shot into a heavy thicket. Since his ball may be lost, he hits a provisional ball that comes to rest near the hole. In the circumstances, it is advantageous to the player not to find his original ball. Accordingly, the player does not search for the original ball and walks directly toward his provisional ball. While the player is on his way to his provisional ball, a ball believed to be his original is found. The player is advised that his original ball may have been found. May the player ignore this ball and continue play with the provisional ball?
A.No. The player must inspect the ball that has been found and, if it is the player's original ball, he must continue play with it (or proceed under the unplayable ball Rule). The provisional ball must be abandoned - Rule27-2c. See also Decision 27-2b/1.
Player Discovers Original Ball in Hole after Searching Five Minutes And then Continuing Play with Provisional Ball
Q.At a par-3 hole, a player, believing his original ball may be lost, plays a provisional ball. He searches five minutes for the original ball and then plays the provisional ball onto the green. At that point, the original ball is found in the hole. What is the ruling?
A.The player's score is 1. The play of the hole was completed when the player holed the original ball (Rule 1-1).