Shawn Stefani lost his ball in the clouds.
Then the crowd lost their minds.
“When the crowd went crazy,” said Stefani, who finished in 60th place, “I knew it went in.”
Stefani hit a hole-in-one on hole No. 17 yesterday during the final round of the U.S. Open at Merion. He’s the first golfer to ace any hole at the Open at Merion, which hosted the tournament for the fifth time. It’s the 43rd ace in the major’s 113-year history.
He smashed the ball with his 4-iron down the 229-yard, par-3 hole. It went over the flag, bounced in and then out of the rough, then rolled 50 feet across the green before it slipped into the cup. Stefani jumped when he heard the crowd.
“I didn’t know what to do but jump up and down for joy,” he said.
As he approached the green, he dropped to his knees and kissed the spot where it landed. He tipped his cap to the raucous crowd.
“We’re in Philly,” he said. “There’s some great fans up here and I know they can be tough on you, and they can love you forever.”
This was his second hole-in-one. His first came at Goose Creek Country Club in his hometown of Baytown, Texas. He was 13.
Ironically, the first hole-in-one at the Open was also on a Philadelphia-based club. Jack Hobens aced the 147-yard 10th hole at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in 1907.
Officials from the USGA Museum wanted to save the lucky ball.
“It’s hiding right now,” he said. “I’m going to save it.”
Would he ever consider donating it in the future?
“Depends on what they want to do with it,” he said.
He later added: “Well, there’s a price for everything.”