When it comes to hole-in-ones in 2016, the most interesting news is that they seem to be coming in pairs.
Last week, Baltimore Oriole pitcher Brian Matusz accomplished the unique double of making an ace while playing left-handed after having made one playing right handed a few years back. From the mortal ranks, in January we got the report that 73-year-old Margery Hadar had two aces in the same round at Granada Golf Course in Coral Gables, Fla. And over the weekend at PGA National, Alex Cejka had his second ace of the PGA Tour season when he used an 8-iron on the 177-yard 17th hole during Round 1 of the Honda Classic, the ball doing a hop, skip and quick jump into the hole.
Looking beyond sheer coincidence, the “two” element makes sense at the start of this year because it was 70 years ago that a tour player aced two holes in the same tournament for the first time. Australia’s Jim Ferrier accomplished the feat at the 1946 Victory Bond San Francisco Open, played Jan. 10-13 at the Olympic Club on the Lakeside Course (the name back then).
The lean 6-foot-4 Ferrier is most well-known for his victory in the 1947 PGA Championship winner, where he became the first Aussie to win a major. But he was a very layered character. He overcame a soccer leg injury in his youth to become a standout golfer who would win around the world with 18 PGA Tour titles and 10 Australian tour victories. He also worked as a golf reporter and journalist, mainly filing for Sydney daily papers. He came to the United States in 1940, settled into a club-pro job and even served in the U.S. Army after becoming an American citizen. After World War II, he became a strong force on the PGA Tour, his final victory coming in 1961.
Bold in his actions and dialogue, Ferrier made the interesting move prior to the 1947 PGA final with Chick Harbert at Michigan’s Plum Hollow C.C. to hire two police officers to mind his ball on each side of the fairway. Ferrier was worried that the local crowd, roaming freely without gallery ropes, might do something to help Harbert, an Ohio-born, Michigan golf legend. But Ferrier, always known for his putting and short game, took just 52 putts in winning the 36-hole finale, 2 and 1. Afterward, Ferrier said of the police presence, “That was the best $100 that I have ever spent.”
At Olympic in ’46, Ferrier made aces in the first and fourth rounds, according to the tour’s media guide, but the holes aren’t specified. The Golfer’s Handbook from that time notes in Ferrier’s bio that it was the 12th and 15th holes. The present layout has 12 as a par 4 and 13 a par 3, so the two holes were likely 13 and 15. Ferrier didn’t win—he finished 15 shots behind three-peat champion Byron Nelson—but he entered the record books as the first of eight tour players make two aces in a tournament, the last being Brian Harman in last year’s Barclays final round.