A soaring hole-in-one on the par four seventh gave Alvaro Quiros the perfect boost on the eve of the 112th US Open at the Olympic Club.
More importantly, Quiros’s albatross on the 288 yard hole helped him win his match against close friend Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and collect the $20 side bet.
The Spanish pair were putting the final touches to their US Open preparations when Quiros unleashed the perfect drive on their penultimate hole, the ball pitching seven metres short and running out into the hole, dropping into the cup amid rapturous applause from the crowd. He then birdied the next as well for a one-two finish, making his playing partner’s three-three finish look rather ordinary.
“I was just turning to my caddie saying that was a good drive when Gonzalo said he thought I holed it,” Quiros explained. “I said ‘Hey, come on, it is hard enough to find the fairways with the driver, I am not going to find the hole.’
“I thought it had hit the flag which was why everyone was cheering. And it helped me win the match which was the most important thing as I got the $20. I finished one-two and he made three-three and lost by three! That doesn’t happen often. It was a nice thing to happen.”
Fernandez-Castaño was just as excited about the shot, even if it did cost him their wager.
“I witnessed a hole-in-one, and it cost me the match! Unbelievable. It was a great moment, very special. When you hear the roar and see him picking the ball out of the hole – I was nervous and it wasn’t even my shot. You don’t often see shots like that so it was great to witness.”
The pair have been practising together all week, helping each other with their games and dining out of an evening and both appear relaxed ahead of what the USGA claim will be the toughest test in golf.
“It’s a good course, difficult, but I like it,” said Fernandez-Castaño of the Lakes Course. “Level par after four rounds would be a good result. But I don’t find it as long as other US Open courses. The greens are very hard and quick and that will make it difficult especially if the wind picks up. But you know what to expect when you tee up in a US Open. I don’t think the rough is as punishing and the course is not as long. You have to shape the shots and players like Miguel Angel Jiménez could do very well round here. Miguel is very good off the tee and he knows how to shape the ball.”
As for his own game, a good week here and then some form for the big European events coming up will do his Ryder Cup aspirations no harm, and his second place in the ISPS Handa Wales Open two weeks ago was a much-needed confidence boost.
“I am playing better. I played poorly at Wentworth but stayed on to work on my game, and then had a good week in Wales where my putting was fantastic. I am looking forward to this week and then the run in Europe. We have some big weeks coming up, so hopefully I can play well and try and make that Ryder Cup team.”
Quiros described the Lake Course as a “complete test for everyone”, and even with his prodigious length has no chance of reaching the 670 yards 16th hole in two off the back tees.
“Even two of my best shots will still leave me 40 metres short,” he said. “Maybe driver and three wood from the forward tees though. Hopefully they use them one day and I can give it a good go.”