Graeme McDowell (left) in action in the Zurich Classic on Friday. STAFF PHOTO BY MAX BECHERER
Zurich Classic

McDowell makes hole-in-one at New Orleans PGA Tour pairs event

The lead is shared by Norwegian duo Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura and Americans Tony Finau and Cameron Champ.

FORMER US OPEN champion Graeme McDowell aced the 216-yard par-3 17th hole with a 4-iron on Friday, the second hole-in-one of the day after Nick Watney’s ace at 14 in the US PGA Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Northern Ireland’s McDowell hadn’t realized his shot had rolled into the cup when partner Matt Wallace of England erupted in celebration, shoving McDowell backwards as he seized him by the shoulders and cheered along with the scattering of fans.

“I would have been happy with anything dry there, but I’ll take a 1,” McDowell told an on-course television interviewer as he headed to the next hole at TPC Louisiana.

After the round, McDowell said he was between clubs for the shot.

“I decided to try and hit a four and pitch it to the front half of the green and sort of take my medicine and get out of there,” he said.

His ball did land on toward the front of the green — then curled to the hole and dropped.

“It was a nice little shot in the arm for us, and we birdied the next, and we put ourselves in a nice little slot going into the weekend,” said McDowell, after he and Wallace finished the day with a one-under par 70 that left them five shots off the lead shared by Norwegian duo Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura and Americans Tony Finau and Cameron Champ.

Hours earlier, Watney aced the 224-yard par-3 14th with a 6-iron.

It turned out to be the lone bright spot on the day for Watney and partner Charley Hoffman, whose two-over round put them at six-under for the tournament through 36 holes — eight shots

The day’s aces were the fourth and fifth at the tournament since the duos format was introduced in 2017, following Billy Hurley and Chris Paisley in 2018 and Kevin Kisner in 2019.

Watney, 39, won his first PGA title at New Orleans in 2007, before it adopted the pairs format. The most recent of his five career PGA titles came at The Barclays in 2012.

McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion at Pebble Beach, won the most recent of his four US tour titles at Corales Puntacana in the Dominican Republic in 2019.

© – AFP, 2021

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