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One For the Money
Rick Lipsey
July 06, 1998
When it comes to holes in one, Tour pros are all aces
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July 06, 1998

One For The Money

When it comes to holes in one, Tour pros are all aces

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PGA TOUR HOLES IN ONE. 1994-98

ACES

ATTEMPTS

% HOLED

DOUBLE EAGLES

1998

19

39,056

.049

1

1997

31

77,060

.040

2

1996

39

74,344

.052

1

1995

35

75,664

.046

2

1994

44

72,614

.061

3

For amateurs, making an ace is like winning the lottery. They might make good contact on a particular par-3, but then so do a hundred others playing the same hole on a given day. The difference between an ace and simply being in birdie range is sheer luck, the good fortune that made Mac O'Grady marvel at "the different universes this white mass of molecules has to pass through on its way to the hole."

According to the National Hole In One Association, America's 26.5 million golfers make about 150,000 holes in one each year. The NHIOA says your chance of acing a par-3 is about one in 12,600. For the pros, though, an ace isn't so special. Remember Lee Westwood's near hole in one at last month's Buick Classic? Westwood hit an eight-iron that zeroed in on Westchester Country Club's par-3 14th hole, and as the ball hopped toward the cup and the crowd erupted, West-wood nonchalantly handed the club to his caddie. He barely bothered to watch as the ball rolled over the lip of the hole and stopped a foot away.

Westwood's peers may be more demonstrative, but they are hardly amazed by their holes in one. Tour players make about one ace a week, year after year. Unlike most of us, they expect to hit the ball close to the flag. When it finds the cup, that's little more man a pleasant surprise. During the 1993 Ryder Cup at the Belfry, Nick Faldo was trailing in a tight singles match against Paul Azinger when they reached the par-3 14th hole. "This would be a good time to hole one," Faldo said to his caddie. His ace moments later helped him halve the match with Azinger.

The NHIOA estimates a PGA Tour pro's odds of making an ace on a given par-3 at 3,700 to 1. Our study of recent Tour records, however, reveals that pros are more accurate than that. As the chart below demonstrates, they have aced one of every 2,016 par-3s they have played in die past five years. The leader is Glen Day with four, while Dave Barr, Jim Gallagher Jr., Gary Hallberg, Phil Mickelson, Joe Ozaki, Steve Pate, Jeff Sluman, Bob Tway and Willie Wood have three aces each. Day and Tway showed die way at the '94 Hartford Open and the '94 Memorial, respectively, by making two holes in one in a single tournament.

For all their glamour, however, holes in one are neither as rare nor as valuable as double eagles. Since 1994 there have been 168 aces on Tour, but only nine albatrosses. "I get much more excited about a double eagle," says John Daly, who has made three aces and five double eagles. "Man, that's three shots under par."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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