By Grant Winter
There were two aces Friday in the second round of the BMW South African Open proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, but there is always an element of luck about a hole-in-one.
With respect to England’s Richard McEvoy and South Africa’s Le Roux Ferreira, who both aced the 158-metre par-three 14th, the shot of the day was – by comparison a tiny little shot – a 30-metre chip over a tricky patch of ground.
Keith Horne missed the green short and right with his tee-shot at the 201m third hole, one of the toughest par-threes that the professionals encounter on the Sunshine Tour.
Horne admitted it was a “horrible” shot and his ball landed in the rough.
It wasn’t the easiest of lies. It required a low, delicate chip running through some longish grass, then a short stretch of closely-mown fairway before reaching a putting surface running hard and fast. The pin was tucked on the far side of the green, and a chip hit a touch too strong would roll down a slope 20 feet past the cup into bogey country.
Now Horne had do some of the serious “detective work” required of golf professionals – trying to find clues to determine how speed and slope and, in this case, wind on a blustery day would affect his shot.
He spent a good deal of time figuring this all out before trusting his judgement and executing the little shot.
The eight-time Sunshine Tour winner pulled it off to perfection, with his golf ball – as if by remote control – running up straight towards the cup and stopping just two feet short of it to set up an easy, tap-in par three.
“It is shots like that that kept the momentum going for me today in tricky conditions because the wind was swirling all the time,” said Horne who posted a bogey-free 69 for an eight-under-par 136 halfway total and the clubhouse lead.
McEvoy’s ace, incidentally, was his first on the main European Tour in his 15 years as a pro.
“The hole was playing to about 145 metres, just perfect for my smooth nine-iron and in it went. At that stage I was needing to make up a couple of shots to make sure I made the cut and, well, I made up those two shots with just one shot!” exclaimed the 36-year-old who posted a 69 following his opening 75 for a level par 144 aggregate.
As an amateur McEvoy played for England and made the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team.
His pro career has seen him divide his time between the European and Challenge Tours, and he has only won once in the paid ranks, on the Challenge Tour in the 2005 Panama Open. He finished tied third in the South African Open in 2011, which equals his best finish on The European Tour.