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Dissecting the PGA TOUR’s nuttiest ace ever

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Dissecting the PGA TOUR’s nuttiest ace ever

Magee’s miracle at TPC Scottsdale’s par-4 17th hole stands alone

    Andrew Magee's hole-in-one on a par-4

    The shot had no equal. And it still doesn’t.

    This week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open marks the 20-year anniversary of the only hole-in-one on a par 4 in PGA TOUR history. It happened in the first round in 2001 and was just how Andrew Magee drew it up, his tee ball at the 332-yard 17th trundling onto the green, bonking off of Tom Byrum’s putter in the group ahead, and diving into the hole.

    Confusion ensued. On the tee they couldn’t be sure what had happened, on the green they didn’t know who had hit the ball. And what would the Rules of Golf say? Even the joke that went around later, that it was the only thing Byrum had made all day, was somewhat murky. Steve Pate attributed the quip to Byrum; Magee to Byrum’s caddie.

    Magee, who was born in Paris, where his father worked in the oil business, was by then a Scottsdale resident and playing in a group that also included Jonathan Kaye and Jerry Smith. Up ahead of them was the threesome of Byrum, Pate and Gary Nicklaus.

    There is video of the shot – sort of. It shows only a ball zooming by and Pate flinching.

    Here’s how it all went down, straight from those who were there.

    Magee had double-bogeyed the par-5 15thhole, but after making a long birdie putt at the 16th, he had the honor on 17, where TOUR pros have little difficulty driving the green.

    Andrew Magee: I'm standing there 332 yards away on the 17th tee, having played there quite often at the TPC of Scottsdale. I knew I couldn't really get it up on to the green all the way, maybe the front of the green from 332 yards, and I was talking to Jonathan Kaye. He said, ‘You'd better wait a little bit. We're a little downwind here.’ I said, ‘You know what, I don't really hit it up on that green. I've played here a lot. I'd maybe drive it up to the front.’

    Jerry Smith: Andrew and Jonathan, they're both very quick players and they're antsy, and we're just sitting there waiting for the group ahead. Andrew is just like, he's just ready to hit.

    Magee: I was still mad about the 15th hole. I said, I'm just going to go ahead and hit it. It's not going to roll up to them. It's going to go to the front edge.

    Magee reared back and gave it everything he had as he came through the hitting area. Few would remember that Mark Calcavecchia won the tournament by eight shots over Rocco Mediate, or that Magee would finish T44. They would only remember what happened next.

    Magee: A little puff of wind came up as I took it back, and I just killed this driver. I just killed it. It flew the middle bunker, down the middle of the fairway about 30 yards short of the green and it ricocheted really hard off the back of that bunker and it bounced up on to the green and all I knew was – I was on the tee, I really couldn't see what was going on.

    Steve Pate: It was playing short. I think the only reason Andrew – he'd made a double the hole before or a couple holes before and was just not very patient. I was walking across the front of the green reading my putt and a ball came zipping by me. I thought I jumped out of the way, but when I saw the video later, the ball was well past me by the time I jumped.

    It all happened quickly. Byrum was sizing up a putt from 8 feet when someone else’s ball rolled onto the green, struck his putter head, hit the flagstick, and disappeared.

    Magee: From the tee, the middle bunker kind of hides the front of the green, so I couldn't see the ball, but my dad was up there to the right of the green, and he was raising his arms.

    Pate: The ball went past me. Tom Byrum was kneeling down reading a putt and the putter head was resting on the ground, and it deflected off of that and it went in.

    Smith: We all kind looked at one another like, Did that do what we think it did?

    Magee: My father was jumping up and down, raising his arms, but I was still numb to the fact that my ball had gone in the hole. I thought maybe I had hit somebody on the green.

    Pate: I got startled. Walking across the front of the green, I'm not expecting a ball to come whizzing by my feet with some speed. It took a few seconds to process what had happened.

    Smith: Then the Rules official came up.

    Magee: I really didn't know until I got 100 yards from the green. The crowd is still cheering and clapping and my dad is raising his arms and the TOUR official is driving the cart kind of alongside with me, and he goes, ‘Yep, it counts.’ I said, ‘Even if I hit somebody? It’s not a penalty?’ He goes, ‘No, if you hit your own equipment it is, but this is a 1. It's recorded.’

    Pate: I'm thinking, S---, he just made a 1. Not something you see every day.

    Magee: They left my ball in the hole for me to pick it out, and I raised it to the crowd, my dad cheering, just going crazy. Only later in the clubhouse, after I finished my round, did I learn that it's the only hole-in-one on a par 4 in the history of the TOUR.

    Given its once-in-a-lifetime improbability, the albatross has had a lasting impact. A plaque memorializing Magee’s miracle sits on 17, and he is asked about it routinely.

    Pate: He shouldn't have hit because the hole was playing really short, but what happened was so unusual, it was kind of cool to be a part of.

    Magee: I saw Steve and Gary Nicklaus after the round, and they congratulated me. They weren't hurt at all. Maybe they felt like they might have been part of the history, too, since their names are also associated with the only hole‑in‑one on a par 4.

    Jason Kokrak aced the 409-yard, par-4 fifth hole at the Seaside Course during the 2013 RSM Classic pro-am, but it didn’t count for history since it wasn’t an official round.

    Pate: I am surprised there hasn’t been another one, especially with the trend in the last few years to make more par-4 holes drivable. And guys are already hitting it farther.

    Smith: To think that that's the only hole‑in‑one on a par 4 on TOUR is pretty remarkable; even the majors and stuff, they love setting up par 4s that the guys can drive.

    Magee: Robert Garrigus almost made a one on the same hole I did, but it hit the pin and bounced out. Dustin Johnson came up inches short at Kapalua. Every time there's a close one I get texts from my friends saying I survived another day. If you Google me, it's the first thing that comes up. It doesn't say I won four times on TOUR and played 600 tournaments.

    I talk about it all the time; people ask me how it went down. I go out to TPC, and all my friends that play out there, they take a picture of the plaque and send it to me. I'm delighted by all of it. I am astonished it's lasted 20 years; hopefully we can last 20 more.

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