Aaron Rai is becoming a regular on the PGA Tour circuit and, on Saturday, at The Players Championship, he made his first ever hole in one on the PGA Tour, with the ace coming at a pretty special venue – The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
Arguably one of the best par 3s in the world, we had already seen a hole in one at the 17th on Thursday from Hayden Buckley. Now, just two days later, Englishman Rai replicated the feat as his gap wedge pitched past the hole and rolled in like a putt, sending the surrounding crowds into raptures.
Starting his third round after weather had delayed the second round’s play, Rai endured a chaotic start to the day, with four birdies and two bogeys in a seven hole stretch put him to four-under for the tournament.
A birdie at the 11th followed, but it was the closing three holes where we saw one of the best finishes on the Stadium Course, with Rai birdieing the 16th as he moved to the iconic par 3.
Striking his gap wedge, the ball span on a dime, with the subsequent few seconds seeing it roll down the slope and into the hole for a first professional hole in one! Normally, when you make a hole in one, the adrenaline will be flowing but, at the par 4 18th, the hardest hole on the golf course, Rai carded a birdie to play the last three holes in eight shots!
“Yeah, (I) played pretty solidly on the back nine,” stated Rai after his seven-under round of 65. “I made a lot of pars to start with, and 16 is a good opportunity if you get your tee shot away and hit a very nice tee shot down there and a great second shot to create the birdie chance.
“17 fell at a very good number with my gap wedge. Hit it great, looked great in the air and very pleased to see it go in. That was an incredible moment. And very pleased at the way that I played 18 as well on the back end of that. It can be quite tricky to compose myself after a situation like that, so to hit a great tee shot, to hit a great second shot and to make birdie was a very pleasing way to finish.”
He went on to add: “It was a little bit of a blur. I saw it go in and then I looked to the left to almost see, is it real and I saw almost the crowd’s hands in the air. In the second after that, I looked to the right towards my caddie and he came running at me. So it happened very fast, but it feels very vivid now that I’m even talking about it and remembering some of those images. So I couldn’t quite believe that it…
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