Otago Daily Times

Hole in one hero­ics a quiet af­fair

GOLF

- Sports · Golf · Augusta-Richmond · Georgia · Tiger Woods · Jack Nicklaus · Rickie Fowler · Rory McIlroy

AU­GUSTA, Ge­or­gia: Jon Rahm yes­ter­day had a holein­one at Au­gusta Na­tional for the se­cond day in a row, and this time there was a cam­era to record the feat for pos­ter­ity, even if there were no fans to cel­e­brate the feat.

There is no record of Rahm’s Tuesday ace at the 206m fourth hole, ex­cept for a short grainy video of him ex­tract­ing the ball from the cup.

But the TV cam­eras were run­ning yes­ter­day when the Spa­niard stepped up to the tee box at the par­3 16th on his 26th birth­day, and at­tempted a trick shot that is part of the Masters prac­tice round tra­di­tion.

Eschew­ing a tee, he hit his ball off the turf and skipped it across the pond, his ball skim­ming the wa­ter three times be­fore bounc­ing up on to the putting sur­face.

From there it rolled and rolled, taking the con­tour of the green per­fectly and curl­ing up and around to the left and then down into the cup, which was cut in the back left cor­ner of the green.

His ball was on the move for 20 sec­onds, the ex­cite­ment only build­ing as it got closer and closer to the hole.

In nor­mal times there would have been thou­sands of spec­ta­tors milling about the hole, but in the ab­sence of fans — banned this year due to Covid19 con­cerns, only a hand­ful of peo­ple wit­nessed the feat and screamed in de­light.

Rahm could barely con­tain his joy, while prac­tice round part­ner Rickie Fowler al­most keeled over in laugh­ter at the im­prob­a­bil­ity of it all.

The episode of­fered a timely re­minder of how this year’s Masters will be so very dif­fer­ent.

Although play­ers have quickly ad­justed to play­ing with­out fans since re­turn­ing to com­pe­ti­tion af­ter a three­month pro­fes­sional golf shut­down, the Masters and its ‘‘pa­trons’’, as they are known, are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked.

‘‘Just imag­ine the roars that would have cre­ated in a nor­mal year,’’ Rory McIl­roy said, speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence shortly af­ter learn­ing of Rahm’s ace.

Imag­ine also if there had been no­body there when Tiger Woods chipped in fa­mously at the same 16th hole and cel­e­brated with a pri­mal scream in the fi­nal round on the way to vic­tory in 2005.

Or if all had been quiet when Jack Nick­laus al­most aced the hole as he charged to vic­tory in 1986. — Reuters

 ?? PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES ?? Shot, bro . . . Jon Rahm, of Spain, cel­e­brates with his cad­die, Adam Hayes, and fel­low player Rickie Fowler, of the United States, af­ter skip­ping his ball across the lake at the 16th for a hole in one dur­ing a prac­tice round yes­ter­day for the Masters at Au­gusta Na­tional Golf Club.
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES Shot, bro . . . Jon Rahm, of Spain, cel­e­brates with his cad­die, Adam Hayes, and fel­low player Rickie Fowler, of the United States, af­ter skip­ping his ball across the lake at the 16th for a hole in one dur­ing a prac­tice round yes­ter­day for the Masters at Au­gusta Na­tional Golf Club.

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