Report: Va. golfer makes 3 aces, shoots 57

By Will GrayJune 27, 2015, 12:10 am

The report that appears on the website golfstylesonline.com is, to put it mildly, an eye-opener. 

Michael Keating, publisher of the GolfStyles Media Group, bluntly states in his first paragraph, "What happened at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Virginia, on June 22 has been met with incredulity, astonishment, outright disbelief and, eventually, incomprehension."

That about sums it up.

"What happened," according to Keating, is that Patrick Wills, a 59-year-old retired Marine, while playing in a 54-hole summer solstice tournament, shot a 57 in the second round, highlighted by three holes-in-one. Two of them came on par-4 holes.

Wills' three playing partners were witnesses: sons Charlie, an engineer, and Christopher, an Afghanistan combat veteran, as well as Air Force major Matt Ghormley.

Wills plays to a plus-4 handicap and he shot a 58 in this same event a few years back. He understands, however, that this report will be met with skepticism in some quarters. 

“I’ve been around the world 10 or 12 times, fighting for this country’s freedom," he said. "People are allowed to believe what they want to believe - I fought for that freedom. But I know what I shot, my playing partners know what I shot and the people at the tournament do as well. I mean, I’m an accomplished amateur. I set my first course record when I was 16, shot a 65 or 66, and I’ve added a few since then. Anyone that has ever played a competitive round with me, they know what I’m capable of. They’ve seen it. So people are entitled to believe what they want, but I’ve always been drawn to golf because it aligns with my morals. I’d rather call a penalty on myself, or even disqualify myself, because I respect the game.” 

Laurel Hill, a par-71 layout which hosted the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, was set up by Keating, the tournament director, to get easier as the day of endurance progressed, meaning players moved up a tee box with each subsequent round. The second round was played from the white tees, which measured 6,021 yards.

Wills birdied four of the first six holes, even dropping a shot on the par-3 fourth hole. But the highlights began on No. 7, a par-4 measuring 278 yards. Wills said he lasered the distance as 250 yards to the front of the green, hit a "baby-draw 3-wood" and then went to go find the ball.

"I was trying to be realistic, so I started looking on the back of the green," Wills said. "I was pleasantly surprised to say the least."

Wills made the turn in 29. Three holes later, he hit a driver on the 311-yard 10th hole. The shot looked pretty good, but Wills was still shocked when his playing partners told him the ball was in the hole - again.

"I literally said to myself, 'Get real.' I thought they were teasing me," he said. "Never in my wildest imagination did I think I could get multiple ones in the same round."

His imagination needed to get even wilder. He pulled up to the par-3 14th hole, playing 176 yards uphill, and jarred a 5-iron. At this point, Wills' playing partners were "dumbfounded," but he tried to keep calm.

"I still had four more holes to play," he said. "I knew I had a special round going, and I didn't want to throw that away."

Wills played his final four holes in 1 under to post a 14-under 57, but the score could have been even lower. He reached the green on the par-5 18th in two shots, only to three-putt from 18 feet, drawing similarities to Dustin Johnson's painful close the same day at the U.S. Open.

"I almost would say that I can empathize with him now," Wills said. 

The round is an all-time best for Wills, but he is no stranger to low scores. He said he has carded "numerous" rounds of 59 and entered the day with 22 career aces, including four on par 4s. Those numbers have now been beefed up to 25 and six, respectively.

Wills also took a shot at the Champions Tour upon turning 50, but he wasn't able to make it out of qualifying and had to put his competitive aspirations to the side when his wife's health took a turn for the worse. 

Gene Orrico, Laurel Hill's director of golf, verified the score for GolfChannel.com.

"He's a good stick. A very, very good player," Orrico said. "I've been playing for 43 years, throw one of those aces at me."

Wills had a short turnaround time before the third round, shooting a 5-under 66 from the gold tees to close out the 54-hole event. But it's the middle round of his solstice journey that remains an all-timer.

"I had never imagined anything like this in my whole life," he said. "I was literally out of my mind."

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)