Jeju, South Korea: Phil Mickelson came within a whisker on Friday of an amazing new chapter in his storied career when he was a fraction from a hole-in-one at the CJ Cup — on a par four.
The five-time major winner, who has graced the world’s top 50 for more than 25 years, hit the pin at the 353-yard 14th hole with the ball finishing just inches from the cup for a brush-in eagle. Had it dropped, it would have been only the second ace at a par four in US PGA Tour history.
Mickelson, who carded a second-round 72 to add to his opening 70, lies 11 strokes off the lead held by his playing partner for the first two rounds, Justin Thomas. But at least “Lefty” now has the consolation of an early contender for shot of the season.
“So it was 307 (yards) to the front, so I had to go ahead and hit it,” said Mickelson, whose perfect blow with a driver took one hop on the green fringe and arrowed straight at the hole. It clanged into the flagstick with just enough pace to prevent it falling to incredulous gasps from the group in front, who had stepped aside to let Mickelson play up.
A hole-in-one is extremely rare and an albatross — three under par on one hole — is even rarer. But a combination of both on a par four is virtually unheard of.
The only one in the history of the US PGA Tour was made by Andrew Magee on the 17th hole at Scottsdale in Phoenix, Arizona, in January 2001.
“I’ve actually had one hole-in-one on a par four, but never in competition. This would have been spectacular,” revealed Mickelson.
“I mean it was right at it, but you never think it’s going to hit the pin or go in,” he added.
“You can’t tell where the distance is or where it’s going to fly. And I couldn’t really see it. I just saw the reaction of the guys up on the green and knew that it almost went in.
“It would have changed my whole attitude because the day was pretty frustrating otherwise,” he said after a level-par round containing four bogeys, two birdies and that eagle left him two-under going into the weekend.
Thomas leads in Jeju, South Korea, after setting the event’s 36-hole tournament scoring record with a 13-under 131 total after a 63 on Friday. —AFP