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U.S. OPEN : THE FOUR ACES : All Used 7-Irons in Record Assault on Sixth Hole Friday

Times Staff Writer

They will forever be remembered as the Four Aces, not to be confused with the 1950s singing group of the same name.

Defying prohibitive odds, Doug Weaver, Mark Wiebe, Jerry Pate and Nick Price each got a hole-in-one on the par-three, 160-yard sixth hole Friday in the U.S. Open at Oak Hill Country Club, within two hours of one another.

Each player used a seven-iron, their tee shots going past the pin and spinning back into the cup on the relatively soft green.

It was the first time in Open history that four players had recorded aces in a single round. The previous record was three--by Johnny Miller, Bill Brodell and Tom Weiskopf in the 1982 Open.

Moreover, the National Hole-in-One Assn. in Dallas said that the odds of four touring pros scoring aces on the same hole in the same round are 8.7 million to one. Golf Digest’s odds were more modest, only 332,000 to one.

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“What happened at the U.S. Open is mind-boggling,” said John P. Everhart, president of the National Hole-in-One Assn. “We know that the touring pro makes an ace once every 3,750 shots, and the amateur odds are approximately one in 12,600, but four holes-in-one in the same round will statistically not happen again for 190 years.”

Weaver, playing in the first group of the day, said it was quiet when he approached the sixth tee at about 8:30 a.m.

“Then, it was a beautiful few moments, and lightning hit as the crowd was so noisy,” he said.

Said Wiebe: “When I got to the tee, the marshal said, ‘Hey, that Weaver guy got the ball in the hole on the first shot of the day.’ Then, when I got my hole-in-one, the guy was doing cartwheels off the tee.”

Said Pate: “I was on the fourth hole when Mark got his and someone said, ‘That was the third hole-in-one of the day.’ Obviously, it was the second. So I said we (his group) might as well hit one in.

“Hale Irwin hit first and his seven-iron absolutely covered the pin. I thought it was in the hole. It hit two feet short, then spun back.

“So I hit a seven (iron) and hit it hard, and I knew I had to hit it past the hole. I knew it was going in as soon as I hit it.

“The first person I heard scream all the way from the green was my wife. She’s a screamer.”

Said Price: “When I got to the hole, the marshal was jumping around and saying, ‘Everyone is making it today.’ Then, before I hit, the marshal said to my caddy, ‘The secret to playing this hole is to hit it down the right-hand side and it will suck right on down.’

“As he was saying this, I hit my shot, and the marshal said, ‘That’s it. That’s the way to do it.’ ”

Pate, the 1976 U.S. Open champion, has recorded eight holes-in-one, Weaver six and Wiebe and Price three each.

“I think the neatest thing about it is that someone comes to the U.S. Open and says he’s going to sit on the sixth green--and you know someone did,” Wiebe said.

“And that person got to watch not only one hole-in-one, but four in the U.S. Open and I think that’s unbelievable.”

The Four Aces donated the golf balls they hit to the museum at the Oak Hill course.

Pate said that the pin placements were as easy as he has ever seen in an Open and that the soft greens contributed to the accuracy of the players’ shots.

After Zell Eaton made a hole-in-one in the 1936 Open, there wasn’t another until Dick Chapman and Johnny Weitzel each got one in 1954.

Now, with the Four Aces making history, there have been 21 known holes-in-one in Open competition.

It’s traditional for a player making a hole-in-one to buy drinks after a round. “We’re all buying,” said Pate, including his buddies in the hole-in-one competition.

Despite their aces, Pate and Price didn’t make the cut, with two-day totals of 148 and 146, respectively. The cut was at 145, which Weaver matched. Wiebe had a 140.


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