PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club


U.S. Open 2019: U.S. Mid-Am champ makes hole-in-one at Pebble Beach, then escorted off course after becoming violently ill

June 12, 2019
The Masters - Preview Day 2

Kevin C. Cox

PEBBLE BEACH—Kevin O'Connell had a memorable moment at Pebble Beach's seventh hole on Tuesday afternoon. Another followed on the eighth, although one he'd rather forget.

O'Connell, in the 2019 U.S. Open field thanks to winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur in October, made a hole-in-one on Pebble Beach's famous short par 3 in his practice round on the venerable links. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, the good times ended soon after.

When walking up the par-4 eighth, O'Connell broke from his group and veered off to the right. This has been a common sight this week, with many players grabbing their phones to snap photos of the countless scenic vistas off the coastline. However, it became quickly apparent that O'Connell was not soaking in the panorama, putting his hands on his knees and bending at the waist.

His caddie, David Gies II, rushed over, and told O'Connell's group—which included Brandon Wu—to continue on. After a few more minutes standing by the cliffs on the right side of the hole, O'Connell was moved to two seats placed in the left-side rough, where a call went in for medical assistance.

An emergency squad arrived, at which point O'Connell become ill, vomiting a number of times. Gies II mentioned that O'Connell had been battling stomach pains most of the morning.


Following 20 minutes of medical attention, police officers and members of the Fire and Safety team loaded O'Connell in an emergency vehicle to escort him off property.

O'Connell was scheduled for an early tee time Wednesday morning with Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, and Adri Arnaus, but O'Connell did not join the group, replaced by Billy Hurley III.

Golf Digest's attempts reach O'Connell have been unsuccessful. The USGA is not allowed to release medical information regarding players. However, the organization told Golf Digest that O'Connell remains committed to playing the tournament.

O'Connell is a former All-American at North Carolina. He turned pro in 2008, attempting the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament three times before filing to reclaim his amateur status. O'Connell has been thinking about giving the professional circuits another try; however, as Mid-Am champ, he needed to stay an amateur to keep invitations to Augusta National and Pebble Beach. (He missed the cut at this year's Masters.)

O'Connell tees off on the 10th tee Thursday at 7:18 a.m. with Hurly III and Brian Davis.