One For The Money When it comes to holes in one, Tour pros are all aces

July 05, 1998

For amateurs, making an ace is like winning the lottery. They
might make good contact on a particular par-3, but then so do a
hundred others playing the same hole on a given day. The
difference between an ace and simply being in birdie range is
sheer luck, the good fortune that made Mac O'Grady marvel at
"the different universes this white mass of molecules has to
pass through on its way to the hole."

According to the National Hole In One Association, America's
26.5 million golfers make about 150,000 holes in one each year.
The NHIOA says your chance of acing a par-3 is about one in
12,600. For the pros, though, an ace isn't so special. Remember
Lee Westwood's near hole in one at last month's Buick Classic?
Westwood hit an eight-iron that zeroed in on Westchester Country
Club's par-3 14th hole, and as the ball hopped toward the cup
and the crowd erupted, Westwood nonchalantly handed the club to
his caddie. He barely bothered to watch as the ball rolled over
the lip of the hole and stopped a foot away.

Westwood's peers may be more demonstrative, but they are hardly
amazed by their holes in one. Tour players make about one ace a
week, year after year. Unlike most of us, they expect to hit the
ball close to the flag. When it finds the cup, that's little
more than a pleasant surprise. During the 1993 Ryder Cup at the
Belfry, Nick Faldo was trailing in a tight singles match against
Paul Azinger when they reached the par-3 14th hole. "This would
be a good time to hole one," Faldo said to his caddie. His ace
moments later helped him halve the match with Azinger.

The NHIOA estimates a PGA Tour pro's odds of making an ace on a
given par-3 at 3,700 to 1. Our study of recent Tour records,
however, reveals that pros are more accurate than that. As the
chart below demonstrates, they have aced one of every 2,016
par-3s they have played in the past five years. The leader is
Glen Day with four, while Dave Barr, Jim Gallagher Jr., Gary
Hallberg, Phil Mickelson, Joe Ozaki, Steve Pate, Jeff Sluman,
Bob Tway and Willie Wood have three aces each. Day and Tway
showed the way at the '94 Hartford Open and the '94 Memorial,
respectively, by making two holes in one in a single tournament.

For all their glamour, however, holes in one are neither as rare
nor as valuable as double eagles. Since 1994 there have been 168
aces on Tour, but only nine albatrosses. "I get much more
excited about a double eagle," says John Daly, who has made
three aces and five double eagles. "Man, that's three shots
under par." --Rick Lipsey

PGA TOUR HOLES IN ONE, 1994-98

ACES ATTEMPTS % HOLED DOUBLE EAGLES

1998 19 39,056 .049 1
1997 31 77,060 .040 2
1996 39 74,344 .052 1
1995 35 75,664 .046 2
1994 44 72,614 .061 3

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK HOLIN' ONE An ace by Tiger Woods triggered one giant leap by fans at the '97 Phoenix Open.

STREAKERS

Brutal conditions at the U.S. Open interrupted many players' hot
streaks. In 1992 Mark O'Meara had 28 straight rounds of par or
better, a feat matched by Craig Stadler last year. Here are this
season's best streaks.

CURRENT
Stephen Ames 8
Scott Gump 6
Lee Janzen 5

SEASON
Jay Don Blake 20
Bob Estes 19
Billy Mayfair 19
John Huston 15
Larry Mize 15

PRO PORTIONS

Can one week make a Tour player's season? Here are the top 10
money winners and the portion of their earnings that came from a
single event.

TOP PAYDAY % OF TOTAL

1. D. Duval $360,000 23.3
2. F. Couples 414,000 27.9
3. J. Leonard 720,000 58.5
4. J. Furyk 248,400 21.4
5. T. Woods 324,000 28.1
6. L. Janzen 535,000 51.9
7. M. O'Meara 576,000 57.4
8. J. Huston 324,000 36.5
9. G. Day 352,000 40.4
10. M. Calcavecchia 324,000 37.5

The Number

5
Strokes by which Annika Sorenstam broke the tournament scoring
record while winning last week's ShopRite LPGA Classic.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)