Where (Double) Eagles Dare

Ponder this, if you would, dear golf fan. How many double eagles (albatrosses for those outside the U.S) have you seen with your very own eyes? Chances are none. I’ve been playing with some of the best amateurs and professionals around the world for the last ten years and I have yet to see one in person. How about on television? The PGA Tour and European Tour have provided the golfing world with a combined 31 Double Eagles since 2005. Vegas odds makers put the chances of the average golfer scoring a double eagle at around 6 million to one. Approximately 40,000 holes in one are recorded on U.S courses every year, compared to only a couple hundred double eagles. They are a rare bird indeed. Apparently Rafa Echenique knows none of this.

Last week at the BMW International Open on the European Tour Echenique came to the par 5 72nd hole four shots adrift of Englishman Nick Doughtery. He stood in the middle of the 18th fairway, 245 yards from the hole at -18 for the tournament. Doughtery was clearly in the driver’s seat as he pushed for the biggest win for his career and his first on tour in two years. One swing later the Argentinian had holed out for double eagle, moved to -21 under for the tournament and, most importantly, moved to within one of Doughtery’s lead.

It all happened in an instant. The pin was cut in the back left hand corner of the green, obscuring the bottom of the cup from the players in the fairway. Echenique’s ball landed in the middle of the green, and drew to the back corner where the hole was cut. It ran out with perfect speed, catching the left-center of the jar. Echenique had already acknowledged the crowds applause when the ball struck the putting surface, but as the crowd exploded so too did the diminutive Argentinian, raising his 3 iron in the air he hugged his caddie, and practically bounded down the rest of the fairway to the green where he was greeted by several of his fellow countrymen in the grandstand. Echenique ran to the stands to embrace his friends before returning to claim his ball from the bottom of the cup.

If Doughtery had stumbled, as he has on occasion over the past two years when chasing a “W”, it might have been the most improbable finish to a professional event in recent memory. According to the leading authority on the subject, doubleeagleclub.org, the last double eagle scored on the European Tour was recorded by Sweden’s Joakim Backstrom at the 2008 Russian Open. The last person to hole out on the final hole of a tournament was Graeme McDowell at the Open de France in 2003, and that is the only time in recorded history it has ever happened on the final hole of either a European or PGA Tour event. McDowell finished tied for 18th.

After the tournament Echineque spoke not like he had finished outright 2nd, but rather as if he had won the event itself.

“It’s fantastic,” he said, “I have a great sensation. I played really good, really good for four days.”

“I made a great eagle on 11 and then I starred making putts. It’s unbelievable, this is a dream for me, and I would like to share with all my team with my family, with my manager, with my coach and I think this is for everybody.”

Of course the most famous double eagle in history, the “shot heard around the world”, was one that, despite not coming on the final hole, won a major championship. Few would argue it was the knockout punch of that tournament. As doubleeagleclub.org notes-

In the afternoon of April 7, 1935, the Squire, Gene Sarazen, accompanied by his Caddie, “Stovepipe”, came to the par-5, 485 yard, 15th tee at Augusta National Golf Club. He was trailing Craig Wood, who was finished with his final round and waiting in the clubhouse with a score of 282, by 3 strokes. Gene’s drive off the tee went 250 yards and foundthe fairway. He had 235 yards to go to the pin on the green. There is a pond that separates the fairway from the green that crosses directly in front making a “run up” to the pin impossible. After talking with Stovepipe, Gene selected his 4-wood for the extra loft it delivers for his second drive from the fairway. He swung the 4-wood and stuck a low line drive that delivered a shot that peaked 30 yards in the air. It was long enough to carry the pond guarding the green… bounced once and rolled to the cup… then gently hit the pin and fell in. Gene Sarazen had scored a “double eagle” duce, three under par, to tie Craig Wood who waited in the Clubhouse. “The shot heard around the world”. The first double eagle recorded during tournament play. Approximately 20 people witnessed the feat. One of them was Augusta Nationals founder, Bobby Jones.

Many consider that shot, that win, and that tournament as the tipping point for the growth of the Masters from a highly regarded invitational event to one of golf’s elite professional majors. It was a truly momentous occasion.

Echenique’s shot may not have been “heard around the world”, heck, it didn’t even win him the BMW International Open, but few can argue it wasn’t one of the most exciting shots and finishes to a tournament in a long time. If you don’t believe me, just keep note of the next time you hear of a professional holing out for double eagle on the final hole to (almost) win a professional event. My bet is it’s going to be a while. I wonder what odds Las Vegas would give to see that?





6 Responses to “Where (Double) Eagles Dare”

  1. Don Woods says:

    I’m told that Ian Baker-Finch had a double-eaglewhile playingat Juliette Falls Golf Club in Dunnellen, Fla, .

    I have seen the plaque that is placed from where he hit his second
    shot. I could not find any other confirmation of the feat. Can you please confirm.

    Thank you

    Don Woods , a 74 yr old duffer ( woodsey)

  2. Mike McIvor says:

    Has any one ever had two eagles on the back nine on par fours at St. Andrews-Old in Scotland ?


  3. Bud Silva says:

    My wife and I witnessed a double eagle from the grandstands of the 6th hole @ the US Open at Pebble Beach G.L. yesterday.(June 20, 2010) Shaun Micheel holed out from the fairway with a six iron. Does anyone know how many double eagles have been made in Major tournaments? My guess is less than 5.

  4. Dave says:

    I learned of a 14 year old who just made his second double eagle in less than two months. What are the odds of that? Same course but two different par 5’s, both about 530 yards.

  5. Andy…
    I am the founder of The Double Eagle Club. Thank’s for the nice words you mentioned about the Club’s website http://www.doubleeagleclub.org. How did you find it? I have not yet had my press release. This should happen with the next week or so. I also enjoyed reading this article… well done!
    All the best,

  6. Larry Quah says:

    Fantastic, Andy! Thanks for sharing this achievement. Now, I know there is a pro by the name of Echenique and he stood tall, very tall, after finishing behind Doughtery.

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