CREVE COEUR – Aces were wild at Bellerive Country Club on Thursday.
Three players made holes-in-one during the first round of the U.S. Senior Open, which is a Champions Tour record.
John Aubrey, a club pro from Butler, Pa., had the first shot at the 145-yard third hole when he hit an 8-iron that landed past the hole and spun back into the cup. The ace was the second in Aubrey’s career but will be remembered as one of the best shots of his life.
“It’s a good feeling for me in a major championship to have that, and it made my day,” Aubrey said.
Aubrey, playing in his first U.S. Senior Open, had his day get better as he finished with a 2-under-par 69 to put him four strokes off the lead.
“For a little club pro like me, it’s a real honor to play against these great players and shoot under par on a great golf course,” Aubrey said.
Mike McCullough, from Coshocton, Ohio, knocked in a 179-yard 5-iron at the 13th hole for his first hole-in-one. McCullough finished the day at 2-over.
Pat Tallent, a club pro from Vienna, Va., followed in Aubrey’s footsteps with an ace at the third hole using a 9-iron. It was Tallent’s fifth ace. Tallent shot a 1-over 72.
LOST AND FOUND: Pete Oakley, the winner of last week’s Senior British Open, had a welcome arrival to his hotel room Thursday at 3:30 a.m.
During Oakley’s journey from Northern Ireland, site of last week’s event, to Philadelphia to St. Louis, his golf bag was lost. Oakley arrived at Bellerive on Tuesday and had to play his practice round with a borrowed set of clubs.
“I kind of had to get used to my clubs all over again this morning,” Oakley said. “I’d gotten used to the driver I used yesterday and stepped up on the first tee and duck hooked my driver, so who knows? But I didn’t know what to think.”
Oakley, the head pro at a course in Rehoboth Beach, Del., said though he shot a 4-over 76, his spirits could not be dampened after earning the first tour victory of his career this past week.
“I’m going to be on cloud nine for a year,” Oakley said. “This is an extreme moment for me.”
WATSON’S NERVES A WRECK: Tom Watson, who finished second at the past two Senior Opens, struggled through his first round Thursday, shooting a 3-over 74.
Watson, who is from Kansas City, is trying to overcome a right arm injury that caused an unidentifiable nerve problem that is giving him neck pain. The injury not only affects Watson’s swing but also his putting stroke; he had an uncharacteristic three-putt on the par-4 15th hole.
“My putting was awful today,” Watson said. “I felt pretty good about my golf swing (Wednesday), but today I don’t feel so good about it.”