Shawn Stefani shows off the ball to the gallery after hitting a hole in one on the 17th hole
(Photo: Julio Cortez, AP)
ARDMORE, Pa. - Ben Hogan used a 1-iron for a historic shot that helped him win the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. Under far different circumstances, PGA Tour rookie Shawn Stefani had a memorable moment with his 4-iron Sunday.
It had not been a weekend to celebrate for Stefani. He shot an 85 (+15) on Saturday. But he lifted his arms in the air and jumped for joy Sunday after making a hole-in-one on the tough par-3 17th.
When he teed up at the 213-yard 17th in the final round, the 31-year-old from Houston was 20 over par. But he said he'd still enjoyed playing before the big crowds this week.
"It was kind of funny. I got up on the tee after 16 and walked to the tee, and I usually don't look at crowds," he said. "I'm not paying attention to it. But I kind of looked up there to see just how many people were in the stands. And the stands were full.''
His tee shot took a helpful bounce off the rough on a slope to the left of the green. Then the ball rolled the width of the undulating green and curved right into the cup.
Stefani's caddie, Chris Callas, jumped up and down, too.
"I wasn't really thinking about doing anything spectacular. It just happened," Stefani said. "But to do that on that hole in this tournament is something that I'll never forget as long as live. And we'll have to wait and see what happens on (ESPN) SportsCenter(Sunday night).''
The 6-2, 205-pounder celebrated like a linebacker who'd just made a big sack.
"I can't remember anything on the tee. It happened. I jumped up and down, slapped some hands, and I really don't know what happened after that," he said.
Stefani's best finish this year has been a seventh place at the Tampa Bay Championship. Tough he bogeyed his last hole Sunday, Stefani still shot a one under 69 for the round. He finished the tournament 19 over par.
Stefani's best finishes this year have been a tie for seventh at the Tampa Bay Championship in March and tie for seventh this month at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
His hole-in-one was the first during an Open at Merion, which has hosted five of them and the 43rd in U.S. Open history. The previous one was last year by John Peterson on the 199-yard 13th hole at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.