CHARLOTTE, N.C. – You never want to bogey the 18th hole on Saturday, but if you’re going to do it, you want to do it the way Aaron Wise did at Quail Hollow.
The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion will start the final round three back at 7 under par after he holed a chip from off the green to save his bogey-5 and sign for a round of 70.
Wise walked to the final tee 2 under on his round and 8 under for the week, just two off the lead held by Jason Day. He smashed his drive 323 yards into the middle of the fairway and was a birdie away from playing in the final pairing on Sunday.
Instead, he hooked his iron from 180 yards and watched his ball miss the green, land on the bank of the creek that runs the length of the closing hole, and then jump over the water, coming to rest in the rough on the downslope of the opposite bank.
From there, he had a decision to make – play the ball as it lay from the downslope or take a penalty stroke and drop on the other side, just off the green. Surveying his options, Wise walked back across the creek, took out his driver, and started to map out a drop.
“I was just in a tough spot and really didn’t know what to do,” Wise admitted after the round. “I was looking at it. If I dropped on the other side, it was going to kick back in the rough anyway and be in a really bad spot. The rough was kind of going away, and it would have been a really hard up-and-down. Because of that, I thought I could hit from where I was.”
Ultimately, he decided to play the ball as it lay, on the downslope, in the hazard – and he whiffed. His wedge slipped clean under the ball, and he was suddenly lying 3, just as he would have been had he dropped on the other side. It looked as if he might have made a mistake.
When his second try from the bank skipped over the back of the green, Wise was facing another up-and-down, this time just to save double. But he would accomplish both the up and the down when he holed this chip from the back fringe for an adventurous 5.
“Yeah, that chip on 18 was huge,” Wise said, fresh off the course. “I’m sure everybody saw it. … To get out of there with bogey, I don’t think I could have gained any more momentum from a shot. So that chip was awesome and it will carry me into tomorrow.”