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By the numbers: No. 17 at THE PLAYERS Championship

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By the numbers: No. 17 at THE PLAYERS Championship

Alex Smalley hole-in-one tops action at 17

    Written by Staff @PGATOUR

    Round 4

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Here is everything you need to know from a record-breaking week on the iconic par-3 17th at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

    Sunday at THE PLAYERS Championship Alex Smalley one-hopped a sand wedge off the rough and into the bottom of the cup for the third ace on No. 17 this week – and the first hole-in-one in the final round since Fred Couples in 1997.

    Alex Smalley's incredible one-hop ace at the Island Green at THE PLAYERS

    Smalley’s ace came after he “made a mess” of the par-5 16th. He hit a wedge over the green into the water and ended up with a double-bogey 7.

    This marked Smalley’s first ace on the PGA TOUR, and fourth overall.

    Smalley made the cut on the number and said he “felt lucky” to even have the opportunity to play 72 holes. He shot a 2-over 74 in the final round.

    “Obviously didn't have a very good day today. Didn't play exactly how I wanted to (but) to play the weekend at my first PLAYERS, I feel pretty good about that,” Smalley said.

    Smalley joined Aaron Rai and Hayden Buckley in record books of THE PLAYERS this week.

    More than 7,400 tee shots were hit at the 17th during THE PLAYERS Championship from 2000-2016 and there were three aces in that span. 437 tee shots were hit this week alone and the same number, three, found the bottom of the cup.

    Buckley, in just the second group of the tournament on Thursday, struck a 125-yard pitching wedge that spun back from about 20 feet away into the hole. Rai, meanwhile, electrified the Saturday spectators with a 122-yard gap wedge that spun into the hole.

    What the 17th giveth, the 17th taketh away, though. Rai hit his tee shot on Sunday on the island green into the water.

    There were 12 balls in the water on Sunday and only 13 birdies – the last made by Min Woo Lee in the final group.

    Overall, the par-3 17th played as the sixth hardest hole of the week with a scoring average of 3.227. Scottie Scheffler, the winner of THE PLAYERS, made par each day.


    Balls in the water58
    Closest to the Pin0”
    Scoring average3.13

    Round 4 statistics

    Actual Yardage133
    Balls in the water13
    Closest to the Pin0”
    Scoring average3.227

    Round 3

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – England’s Aaron Rai made a hole-in-one at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship on Saturday.

    Aaron Rai's exhilarating ace on No. 17 is the Shot of the Day

    From 122 yards, Rai hit a gap wedge and watched his ball land behind the pin and back up into the hole. He chest-bumped his caddie, Jason Timmis, and high-fived his playing partners as the crowd erupted at what was his third hole-in-one in competition.

    “It was a little bit of a blur,” said Rai, who is making his first PLAYERS start. “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,” he continued, “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. I couldn't quite believe that it happened, but very, very special. Very special. Something I'll always remember.”

    Rai birdied the 16th and 18th holes for a wild, 4-under finish over his last three holes. He shot 65 and at 9-under total is tied for fourth place, five behind leader Scottie Scheffler.

    A two-time winner on the DP World Tour, Rai, 28, has just one top-10 finish in 14 starts so far on the PGA TOUR this season, a T7 at the Cadence Bank Houston Open last fall. He is coming off a T53 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and is ranked 128th in the Official World Golf Ranking, 92nd in the FedExCup.

    Hayden Buckley, who wound up missing the cut, made a hole-in-one at the same hole early in the opening round Thursday. Rai’s ace made this the first PLAYERS with more than once ace on 17 for the week.

    Second-easiest day since ‘83.

    Field feasts on 17

    There were only two balls in the water at the 17th hole in the third round as the hole played to a 2.72 average. Although Rai had the only hole-in-one there, several tee shots came close, and there were 25 birdies, four bogeys, and just one double-bogey. It all added up to the second-lowest stroke average on the hole since 1983; the lowest was 2.68 and came in the third round in 1996.

    Round 2

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The Island Green fought back in the second round after allowing an ace and presenting a rather docile test in THE PLAYERS’ opening round.

    The headline out of the Island Green on Thursday was Hayden Buckley’s hole-in-one in the day’s second group. A day later, the big news was a quadruple bogey by the man who’d been making TPC Sawgrass look easily.

    Chad Ramey was 9 under par and owned a two-shot lead when he arrived at No. 17 on Friday afternoon. He trailed by two after watching two tee shots trickle over the green and into the water.

    Chad Ramey makes a quadruple bogey on No. 17 at THE PLAYERS

    “To be honest, weirdly enough, both the shots I hit there that went in the water, I did not hit bad shots,” Ramey said Saturday morning after finishing his second-round 75. “I just pitched them both just a little too far, and that green was really firm yesterday afternoon, and they just kind of trickled over in the water.”

    Ramey shot 64 to hold THE PLAYERS’ 18-hole lead, then began Friday with birdies on two of his first three holes. He’d made 10 birdies and just a single bogey when he arrived at No. 17, his eighth hole of the second round. Then both his tee shot and his attempt from the drop area went over the green. His quad on 17 represents the margin between him and leader Adam Svensson. Ramey is T7 at 5-under 139.

    The 17th hole was the second-hardest of the second round, playing to a 3.37 average, with more double bogeys and worse (17) than birdies (14). There were 25 balls in the water, seven more than the previous day, when the Island Green played as the 12th-hardest hole.

    Note: Play was suspended due to weather Friday at 4:27 p.m. with 13 groups finishing their rounds Saturday morning

    Actual Yardage145
    Balls in the water25
    Closest to the pin3', 4"
    Scoring average3.37

    Round 1

    Some golf holes are known as scoreable; others might be known as ace-able. A front hole location at the island-green, par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass’ THE PLAYERS Stadium Course pushes the hole into that latter category.

    Hayden Buckley, 27, took advantage on Thursday. Playing in the second group off No. 10 tee, Buckley struck a 125-yard pitching wedge that landed some 20 feet past the hole and spun back for a hole-in-one. He threw his hat in the air and pumped both his fists.

    The ace moved Buckley to 3 under on his round; he got it to 5 under before a late skid produced a 1-over 73. Regardless, he intended to savor the moment from one of golf’s most iconic holes.

    “Drinks on me,” Buckley said after signing his scorecard Thursday. “I had a little feeling something like that might happen this week. I’ve been hitting it well, but it’s always nice to see it happen on that hole, too.”

    It was the 40th ace in tournament history, the 35th at TPC Sawgrass, and the 11th at the iconic 17th hole.

    Shane Lowry made the 10th island-green ace at THE PLAYERS, in the third round in 2022 – playing alongside Buckley.

    It also marks Buckley’s second career ace on TOUR; his first came at TPC Summerlin’s 17th hole in Round 1 at the 2021 Shriners Children’s Open. That time, he got grief from family and friends about his reaction, or lack thereof. This time he made amends.

    “I think a lot of people made fun of me … I didn't have much of a reaction,” said Buckley of his first TOUR ace. “It was early in the morning; nobody was really out there.

    “I guess I had to have a little bit more of a reaction this time. I had friends and my wife in the crowd, so I had to entertain them a little bit.”

    He entertained the golf world, as well.

    Hayden Buckley makes a hole-in-one No. 17 at THE PLAYERS

    In addition to Buckley’s ace, 27 players made birdie on the island green Thursday, including a few near-aces. Chris Kirk, winner of The Honda Classic two weeks ago, landed his tee shot a few feet past the hole and saw it nearly graze the edge as it spun back; he converted the birdie. Lucas Herbert entered the hole at 8 over but delivered a confident strike, the ball settling 2 feet away for an easy birdie.

    Others weren’t as fortunate. Fifteen tee shots found the water; Kelly Kraft found the water twice en route to a quadruple-bogey 7.

    Here’s a look at how the island-green 17th played on Thursday.

    Actual Yardage125 yards
    Balls in the water16
    Closest to the pin0'0"
    Scoring average3.03
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