Inside scoop: 81-year-old recounts 4 aces in 33 days

By Jason SobelOctober 21, 2014, 2:25 pm

It was Monday morning and I was scanning the weekend headlines over a cup of coffee when this one caught my attention: “81-year-old man records 4 aces in 33 days.”

So I did what any of us does with irreverent and seemingly unbelievable information these days: I tweeted it. Wrote a quick one-liner, posted the link and that was that – until about 15 minutes later, when the grandson of 81-year-old ace-machine Dom DeBonis tweeted me back.

“This happens to be my grandfather,” Jordan DeBonis wrote. “It fails to say what he shot these three days. Let’s just say, he shot his age or better all three days.”

Needless to say, I had questions.

Is this the most unlikely golf feat ever? Is the elder DeBonis an ageless marvel who’s unlocked the secrets to making holes-in-one? And whose grandfather makes so many aces that his grandson can’t even keep the number straight?

I had so many questions that I decided to call the man whose recent scorecards have looked like binary code.

“Is this Mr. Hole in One?” I ask when he answers the phone.

“Yeah, that’s me,” he says with a laugh. “I guess I’m Mr. Hole in One now.”

DeBonis quickly explains that it wasn’t always this way. He began playing at age 16 and recorded just one ace in his first 65 years playing the game. It was a Saturday and he was in New Jersey. Though he can’t pinpoint the exact year – it was either 1969 or ’70 – like any true golfer with a hole-in-one on his card, he does remember the yardage.

“A hundred and seventy-eight yards,” he says proudly.

That’s one ace in nearly two-thirds of a century, which makes his impossible story of four in a 33-day span sound even more unlikely.

The first one came at The Villages, the posh retirement community where the Sharpsburg, Pa., native moved about 15 years ago. On Sept. 3, DeBonis used a pitching wedge from 101 yards to record his second career hole-in-one.

“I’d been so close all my life since that first one,” he explains. “Just inches away so many times, balls hanging on the lip that never went in. That one went in and I said, ‘Oh my God, I finally got another one after all these years.”

The grandfather of seven basked in the afterglow of his accomplishment for a little over a month – until things really started getting spooky.

As part of a 12-man golf trip to Myrtle Beach, he recorded another ace on Oct. 6, using a 9-iron from 112 yards. Then again the next day, with a 7-iron from 129 yards. And – you guessed it – again the next day, with an 8-iron from 118 yards.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s a single hole-in-one in 65 years, followed by four in 33 days – including three in a span of 72 hours. And if you’re like me, there’s only one logical question to ask after such a ridiculous accomplishment.

“So, all together, how much did you wind up spending at the 19th holes?”

“Oh, I would imagine drinks came close to $500,” estimates DeBonis, still laughing at his fortune. “They took it easy on me after the first few.”

Mercer Langley, registrar for the National Hole in One Registry, says the odds of a 14-handicap making an ace are around 12,000-to-1, but there’s really no way of quantifying three in three days. That didn’t stop Joe Nowak, a former engineer and one of DeBonis’ golfing buddies, from trying. He maintains that the number would be 12,000 to the ninth power, which equals 1.9 trillion-to-one odds.

I’d check his math, but even my calculator can’t comprehend those totals.

If it sounds completely unfathomable that an 81-year-old could hole more tee shots in just over a month than Tiger Woods in his entire PGA Tour career, consider this: DeBonis isn’t the only recreational golfer to do this. He’s not even the only one in the past 12 months. From Sept. 8 through Oct. 3 of last year, a man named Nick L. Sica of New Castle, Pa., also recorded four aces.

So maybe DeBonis isn’t that special after all, huh? Think again. Just as his grandson alluded to, not only did he have four holes-in-one, the former member of the Duquesne University golf team bested his age during each of those rounds, posting scores of 77, 78, 78 and 76.

Other than having some unbelievable memories, some great mementos and a lot more Google hits to his name, life hasn’t changed much for Mr. Hole in One. Actually, that’s not even his official nickname. For years, the commissioner of his fantasy football league had dubbed his team The Age-Breaker after his proficiency for shooting below his years. When he returned from that Myrtle Beach trip, he found the team’s name had been changed to The Ace-Maker.

Before we end our conversation, I ask him one final question.

“For a guy like me who’s never gotten a hole-in-one, what’s the secret?”

“The advice I’d give?” he says. “Be lucky.”

As he hangs up the phone, The Ace-Maker is still laughing.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.