Hal Sutton saw the ball disappear into the hole at Tucson National and figured he had an eagle and the first-round lead in the Tucson Open.
But he didn’t get all of the ball all the way into the hole and, in a situation that may be unique, had to settle for a closing birdie and a share of the top spot with Bob Tway.
“It’s history book stuff,” Sutton said Thursday after he sweated out a 40-50 minute delay and eventually signed for an eight-under-par 64.
“I’ve been out here (on the PGA Tour) for 25 years and I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” said Wade Cagle, the Tour’s Tournament Supervisor.
Sutton’s 166-yard, six-iron second shot on the ninth hole--his 18th of the day--hit the hole on the fly and embedded in the front lip.
“More than half the ball was in the hole,” Sutton said. “Most of it was below the surface of the ground.”
“I don’t know why it didn’t drop,” the tournament official said.
But it didn’t.
It simply hung there, more than half in the hole, partially below the surface of the ground and apparently defying gravity.
That’s when Sutton called for an official. Then he called for another one. It took about 20 minutes before Cagle eventually ruled the ball was not holed, citing section 16-3 from “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” which applies to this particular--and peculiar--situation.
Another 20 minutes went by while the ball was removed, the hole repaired and Sutton attempted to place the ball in its original position. But it fell into the hole. He tried again. Same result.
Eventually, he moved it back about half an inch and tapped in the birdie putt that tied him with Tway.
Tway’s 64 came on the strength of an eagle 3 on the 11th hole and a closing string of three birdies at the TPC at Starpass, one of two courses used for the first two rounds of this event.
Phil Mickelson, a 20-year-old junior at Arizona State, also played at Starpass and rallied from a first-hole bogey with eight birdies to finish with a 65.
“I was pretty nervous starting out and had to make a 15-footer for bogey on the first hole, but then I made three birdies in a row and I settled down. It was just a lot of fun after that,” said Mickelson, a left-hander who last year won the U.S. Amateur title and his second NCAA championship.
Gary Hallberg, Nolan Henke and Jim Hallet had 66s.