PINEHURST, N.C. – Zach Johnson will be buying the beers tonight.
The former Masters champion made a hole-in-one on the par-3 ninth hole – one of Pinehurst’s toughest – Sunday afternoon to get his final round back to even par.
The ball landed left of the hole and trickled down the hill, running out of steam right at the cup.
Johnson, playing with Kenny Perry, benefited by hitting second on the tee – taking one more club so that he didn’t leave it short.
“If I would have had the honor there, I would have hit an 8-iron and I would have been short or off the green or in the trap. I hit a great iron, along the same line, and it landed – it was 5 yards short of the green,” said Johnson. “So I just held a 7-iron, tried to hit a high, high 7-iron, an easy 7-iron. I think 167 hole, 168 hole – 168, probably playing 166, one of those where it landed essentially kind of to the left and stopped.”
It also happened to be the first of his career in competition – third of his life – which led to a fairly emotional celebration.
Johnson, who posted a 2-over 72 to finish at 9 over, tossed his club in the air, put his arms to the sky and couldn’t help but smile despite being well out of contention at the U.S. Open.
He took off in a sprint to give high-fives down the right side of the fairway, then jogged to the other side to slap hands with those on the left.
The ace also landed Johnson as a trending topic on Twitter and quite a few replays of the shot on national television. That softened the blow for his caddie, Damon Green, who is out $100 because of the hole-in-one.
“That’s why I play golf, for social media. And that comes with the territory,” joked Johnson. “I’m in a major, I’m assuming it’s a pretty good deal. My caddie actually made a wager with somebody, bet a hundred bucks that no one would make a hole-in-one this week. The way he looks at it, that might have made him a hundred, anyway.”
Perry is now witness to both hole-in-ones at Pinehurst No. 2 during the U.S. Open, also partnering with Peter Jacobsen in 2005 when he aced the ninth hole during the third round.
“KP is a good luck charm,” said Johnson.