Ace from Wilcox on 17th ignites crowd
First hole-in-one on famous par 3 since Miguel Angel Jimenez did it in 2002
May 13, 2016
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Will Wilcox poses with the ball he used to make an ace on the par-3 17th hole during the second round. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The shot was great. The reaction might’ve been better.
Will Wilcox celebrated the first hole-in-one in 14 years at TPC Sawgrass’ island-green 17th in appropriate fashion. He jumped into the arms of caddie Mick Middlemo, high-fived his playing partners as well as a few fans, and generally acted with equal amounts of stunned disbelief and unbridled euphoria.
“I’ve seen so many TOUR players make hole-in-ones and hole shots and they’re like – nothing,” Wilcox said. “Like, what’s wrong with you? So especially in that situation, I just get pumped up.”
It’s no surprise.
“Will has always been an animated guy,” Middlemo said. “He enjoyed it as much as everybody.”
Yep, that’s Will.
“I came in 15th in New Orleans and I acted like I just won the Masters,” Wilcox said. “If I come in 38th here, then I’m going to party on Sunday night. I just enjoy everything that happens to me out here.”
Frankly, if anybody should be nonchalant about making an ace, it’s Wilcox. He’s had 13 of them in his lifetime, including two on the Web.com Tour.
But this is the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. Since Miguel Angel Jimenez aced it in 2002, 6,300 shots had been struck at 17 before Wilcox ended the drought during Friday’s second round at THE PLAYERS Championship.
“In my 15 years (as caddie), this is probably the most exciting things I’ve ever been involved in,” Middlemo said. “It was unbelievable. Unbelievable….
“16 at Phoenix (TPC Scottsdale) is fun, but I think this is an iconic par 3. Everybody knows it and everyone can relate to it It’s fun.”
With the hole playing 147 yards on Friday, Wilcox and Middelmo had debated using a 9-iron off the tee. But they switched after seeing playing partner Cameron Tringale hit his tee shot with a wedge to 3 feet.
Ironically, Tringale and his caddie were discussing earlier this week which hole in golf would be best to post an ace. The 17th was front and center on those discussions.
“Pretty amazing to see a hole-in-one there,” Tringale said. “… The atmosphere is electric back there. … He really hit the perfect shot.”
Said Wilcox: “The back left pin is a total beast. For it to happen on that pin for me is crazy because I was so nervous I could barely stand. You saw that follow-through. It was, like, really abbreviated and it was just a pure just desperation hold.
“Yeah, for it to go in was crazy because I was really, really nervous.”
Then the celebration began, with Wilcox throwing himself into Middlemo’s arms.
“I’m lucky it wasn’t Kevin Stadler,” said Middlemo, giving the needle to his good friend. “I wasn’t ready for it, but I’m lucky (Wilcox) is only 150 pounds. I’m a big boy. I can handle it.”
As for Wilcox, the moment was made even more special because his entire family was in the gallery watching him – even his sister, who rarely gets to see Wilcox play.
The ace moved Wilcox to 5 under, giving him a generous cushion to make the cut. But he still had to hit his tee shot at 18, and acknowledged that his hands were still shaking. But he made par and now will play on the weekend in his first PLAYERS appearance.
No matter how he finishes Sunday, he’s already produced one of the biggest highlights of the week.
Said Middlemo: “He’ll be watching that for the next 40 years on TV.”
Will Wilcox aces the par-3 17th hole at THE PLAYERS