Stefani's ace high point of tough Open week
Easy, like Sunday morning.
That's how No. 17 played for Shawn Stefani, even if the rest of the week was a much tougher test at Merion Golf Club.
Stefani pulled his 4-iron tee shot on the long par-3 and it landed left of the green – but bounded onto the putting surface, slowly rolled to the lower shelf toward the pin on the right side, and kept going until it fell into the cup, trapped between the lip and the pin.
"I was actually trying to hit the left side of the green and cut it," Stefani said. "And then I kind of pulled it. I pulled it about five yards. And the wind was kind of down off the left and it really didn't help at all. It didn't move it to the right.
"And honestly I think I've seen a bunch of balls that week kind of not kick to the right and I was really surprised to see the ball kick to the right. And then once it did kick, it kept rolling and I was like, well this could be good. And the fans stood up and then it kept getting closer and closer and then when it went in, I was just super excited because it's the first hole-in-one I've ever had in a tournament."
Part of the reason the ball bounced favorably? Our Bradley S. Klein mentioned that via his Twitter account, @BKleinGolfweek: "Stefani's ace at 17th made possible because crew finally mowed rough along left side of green last night, allowing ball to roll off to hole"
It was the first ace for the PGA Tour pro since he was 13: "Goose Creek Country Club where I grew up playing golf, on No. 16."
Stefani and his caddie made the most of the moment, tee to green. The Philly-area fans reacted with raucous support and appreciation. He even kissed a spot in the left-side rough where the ball first landed.
"There's some great fans up here and I know they can be tough on you and they can love you forever. So I'm sure they appreciated me going to the ground and kissing it, because obviously the ground is where the kick started and the ball kicking right and going on the green."
It clearly was the best part of his U.S. Open journey, as Stefani finished the tournament 19 over.
And what becomes of the ball? Stefani says he's got it hidden away, awaiting the right kind of case in which to show it off.
And if Merion wants it?
"Well, there's a price for everything."