An ace like no other for Francesco Molinari

An ace like no other for Francesco Molinari

Published Jan. 31, 2015 7:57 p.m. ET

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Francesco Molinari of Italy had to return Saturday morning to finish his second round at the Phoenix Open, and he couldn't believe the number of people who filed into the grandstands at the par-3 16th hole just as the sun was rising over the TPC Scottsdale.

A few hours later, Molinari made it worth their while.

He made a hole-in-one on the largest, loudest area in golf for a par 3 and got a reaction unlike any other in golf.

''Something you don't see in golf every day,'' Molinari said after his 7-under 64.


Maybe he was talking about more than 15,000 fans crammed onto one hole, packed into bleachers and sky boxes. More likely he was talking about how dozens of fans began heaving plastic beer bottles around the 16th green out of sheer euphoria of seeing such a big moment.

It was his third hole-in-one, this one unlike the others. He once made one in Malaysia while returning the next morning from a rain delay, and it's safe to say there was in neighborhood of 15,000 fewer fans that day than in Phoenix.

And it was the first time he had seen so many beer containers rain down from the stands.

''First and last, hopefully,'' he said with a smile. ''Brian Davis had to play after me, unfortunately. So he had to wait to let the guys clear the green and the bunkers. I don't know how to describe it. You have to see it. And it was obviously amazing for me to be there and have a hole-in-one in that scenario.

Even more bizarre, was what happened to his golf ball. Molinari, caught up in the moment, heaved it into the grandstands. Surprisingly, someone threw it back.

''They nearly hit Brian Davis again,'' Molinari said. ''A volunteer just raked it out of the bunker and gave it to me at the end of the round. It was nice to get it back. I don't know if I will keep it or give it to someone. I wasn't expecting to see it come back from the stands.''

In his first trip to the Phoenix Open, Molinari doesn't know it's like to get booed for missing the green. He made two-putt pars the first two days, and on Saturday, he didn't have to putt at all.

There's still Sunday.

''I guess tomorrow I will hit it to 2 feet and I will be booed,'' he said.


RAHM-BO: Even more amazing than Arizona State junior Jon Rahm being in the hunt at the Phoenix Open is doing it while being under the weather.

He has been dealing with a stomach virus the last few days, and it didn't help to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to finish his first round on Friday.

''It was hurting all the time,'' Rahm said. ''I felt like I was going to vomit all the time. And when I got here, I got a headache, my body started feeling bad, and I finished those two holes. Then I went to the doctor. They gave me something for my stomach to calm me down and something for the headache. I played through the round.''

Adrenaline took over from there, so he feels fine on the golf course. It's when he finishes that he starts to ache.

''I'm just trying to drink a lot of liquids and get the virus out of me,'' he said.


WELCOME BACK, ZACH: Zach Johnson isn't sure why he had not played the Phoenix Open in five years, but he has no regrets.

Johnson shot a 67 on Saturday and was tied for second, three shots behind Martin Laird.

''It's one of those situations I didn't know if it would be good for me,'' he said of the TPC Scottsdale. ''I think it's a good golf course for me. Obviously, three days in it's pretty clear that it's not a bad course for me.''


SUPER TEE TIME: Keegan Bradley, so uptight about his beloved New England Patriots that he wears receivers' gloves when he watches on TV, already has his tickets for the Super Bowl in nearby Glendale between the Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.

And now he won't have to worry about rushing to get there.

Bradley shot an even-par 71 on Saturday and was at 4-under 209. That puts him in the middle of the pack, and with the final round going off both tees, it was an ideal position for a guy who wants to watch some football on Sunday.

He is in the second group off at 9:15 a.m. The game starts at 4:30 p.m. local time.


DIVOTS: Kevin Chappell, who lives in Scottsdale during the winter, had reason to think it might be a short week when he opened with a 75. Chappell bounced back with a pair of 65s and goes into the final round just five shots out of the lead. ... Justin Thomas has played all 15 rounds in 2015 at par or better. ... Rahm is the fifth Arizona State player to compete at the Phoenix Open while still on the golf team. The best finish of the other four was Phil Mickelson, who tied for 32nd in 1991.