Aaron Rai’s second hole-in-one of the week on the iconic 17th hole at the Players

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Aaron Raik not only had the thrill of a lifetime at The Players Championship on Saturday, but also became part of tournament history.

The 28-year-old Englishman playing in his first Players Championship, Rai birdied a hole-in-one on the iconic par-3 17th hole in the third round.

It was the second ace on the hole this week (Hayden Buckley won on Thursday), the first time that has ever happened.

Rai, who claimed the third ace of his career in the contest, made his hole-in-one between a birdie on the par-5 16th hole and a birdie on the par-4 18th. difficult So he went 4-1-3 to close and finish at 9 under, four behind Scottie Scheffler.

“Seventeen fell on a very good number with my gaping wedge,” he said. “I hit it well, (it) looked great in the air and I was very happy to see it go in. It was an incredible moment. And I was very happy with the way I played in the back 18 as well.
“It can be quite tricky to compose myself after a situation like this, so to have a great first shot, a great second shot and birdie was a really nice way to finish.”

Rai shot 31 on the back of 65. He is one of 31 players competing in his first Players Championship this week and called the hole “a bit of a blur”.

“I saw it go in and then I looked to my left to almost see, ‘Is it real?’ ” he said. “I saw people’s hands in the air. The second after that, I looked to my right at my caddy and he came running at me. It happened so fast, but I feel so vivid talking about it and remembering some of those images.

“I couldn’t believe it happened, but very, very special. Very special Something I will always remember”.

So was his experience a few weeks ago at the Genesis Invitational on the Riviera, where he trailed Tiger Woods throughout his pro-am.

Aaron Rai (left) celebrates with Dylan Wu after a hole-in-one on the 17th hole of the third round of The Players Championship.Getty Images

“I thought it was a great opportunity to walk with him, see him up close and see how he hits some shots around the greens, see how he prepares, see the ball flights he uses,” Rai said. . “That was my reason for watching him that Wednesday, to try to learn as much as possible, because I haven’t had the opportunity to see him in practice. I was just grateful to be able to see him and also to meet him, he was amazing, a real gentleman.’

Shortly before the Rai fireworks, Tom Hoge finished with a record-tying 10-under 62.

Tom Hoge shot a record 62 in the third round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.Tom Hoge shot a record 62 in the third round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.Getty Images

Hoge, a friendly 33-year-old from Statesville, NC, shot a 78 in his opening round and looked a lock to miss the cut.

But he followed that up with a 4-under 68 in the second round, making the cut he had to sweat out (he finished 2 over) and then shot a 62 to finish at 8 under for the tournament.

“I didn’t know it was a course record until we finished scoring,” Hoge said. “Today was going to be the day to do it, because it was soft with little wind, and you could make birdies and keep trying to make birdies. So I felt fortunate and tried to make the most of it.

“It’s just a golf course, it doesn’t really reward any style of play. You have to hit certain positions and go from there. I think it’s a golf course that suits me very well.”

Jerry Kelly, at 56, became the oldest player ever at The Players, then carded a 3-under 69 in the third round to stay at 1-under for the week.

At 56 years, 3 months and 16 days, Kelly broke the long-standing record held by Arnold Palmer, who was 55 years, 6 months and 19 days in 1985.

Kelly, who plays on the Champions Tour, birdied the final hole of the second round on Friday and had to wait until the second Saturday morning when Eric Cole birdied his final hole to avoid moving back to the cut. 2-more

He’s in the field this week after winning the PGA Tour Champions Bridgestone Senior Players Championship (now called the Kaulig Companies Championship) last season.

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