The par-3 16th hole at Augusta National proved again to be a fountain for aces. Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas both made hole-in-ones at the 173-yard hole dubbed “Redbud” on Sunday in the final round of the Masters.
The hole has now surrendered 22 hole-in-ones, 11 since 2011. There were three aces there in 2016.
DeChambeau has won the NCAA Championship, the U.S. Amateur and five professional tournaments, two of them FedEx Cup events, but until Sunday afternoon he had never made a hole-in-one.
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“I knew back three years ago, I said to my caddie and everyone in my camp, I’m going to make a hole-in-one there one day and sure enough it was my first one three years later,” DeChambeau said.
As soon as DeChambeau launched his 7-iron, he knew it had a chance. The ball hit the middle of the green and turned left, feeding toward the traditional Sunday hole location in the left front of the green. It dodged the earlier tee shot of Kevin Kisner, which was about five feet away, and tumbled into the cup.
“I hit it perfectly and I was like, ‘This looks really good,’ ” DeChambeau said. “I’ve seen it a bunch of times on TV where that lands and I was like, that’s really good.”
Thirteen groups later, it happened again. Thomas watched as playing partner Jon Rahm hit his tee shot to about a foot away. Thomas pulled an 8-iron and it reacted almost identically to DeChambeau’s for the ace.
“Phil (Mickelson) and I were kind of walking off together and I said jokingly, ‘How about a 1, Phil?’ ” Thomas said. “When everybody stands up, that’s when you know … and everyone did for mine. It disappeared and he kind of looked at me and I looked at him and I said I can’t believe that actually went in.”
The other par 3s aren’t as inviting, yielding a total of nine in Masters history: one at No. 4, five at No. 6 and three at No. 12.
Harding earns return trip
Justin Harding has been the surprise story of the week at this year’s Masters. The journeyman from South Africa capped a great week by earning an automatic invitation to next year’s tournament.
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It wasn’t easy. Harding lined up the 22-footer with his long putter, knowing what was at state. He smoothly stroked it into the cup for a birdie, which gave him an even-par 72 and left him at 8-under 280 for the week. It left Harding in a tie for 12th, which guaranteed him a return visit.
Harding secured his invitation to this year’s Masters, his first, by being inside the top 50 of the World Golf Ranking.
Hovland is low amateur
U.S. Amateur champion Viktor Hovland finished as low amateur, but it wasn’t easy.
The Oklahoma State junior bogeyed three of the final six holes to shoot 71 and finish at 3-under 285. Alvaro Ortiz, who started four groups later, was tied with Hovland after making a birdie at No. 17, but bogeyed his final hole to give the honor to Hovland.
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“I’m pretty happy with my performance, just making the cut and showing that I can play out here,” said Hovland, who became the first Norwegian to play in the Masters. “I belong, I feel like.”
Hovland will return to school Monday and try to help Oklahoma State defend its NCAA Championship. He is expected to turn professional after the U.S. Open. Ortiz said he will turn professional after the Masters.
Two other amateurs qualified for the weekend. UCLA’s Devon Bling, the U.S. Amateur runner-up, finished 55th at 291 and Takumi Kanaya, the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, tied for 58th at 292.
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