Kuchar makes a young golf fan’s day

The Sam Snead hat worn by the boy is what caught Matt Kuchar’s eye.

So after Kuchar retrieved his golf ball from the 16thhole, where he just recorded a hole in one with a 7-iron in Sunday’s fourth round of the Masters, he signed his name near the Bridgestone logo, walked over and tossed the prize to 8-year-old Owen Lockaby, dashedly wearing the pork pie style brown hat, bright orange shirt and sitting in a green Masters chair near his parents, Jay and Tracy.

“This is one of my favorite Masters ever,” Owen Lockaby said, his hat sporting a white “Arnie’s Army” button.

Tracy bought the hat in the Bahamas and suggested that Owen wear it as a tribute to his grandfather, Jay’s father, who started attending the Masters in the early 1950s and who was one of the original members of Arnie’s Army.

Jay Lockaby said his father attended 49 or 50 of the events at Augusta National. They’ve made sure to honor the tradition by bringing Owen to the past 10 Masters. Even when Owen was “in utero,” the family made the annual trip from their home in Bradenton, Fla.

Kuchar, a former standout at Georgia Tech, saw Owen, patiently sitting just behind the green, where his family had planted their chairs to watch one of golf’s most exciting holes.

“I figured this would make a kid’s day and make a kid’s year,” Kuchar said. “It’s one of the neat things that we can do.”

Owen Lockaby plays golf but said he’s never had a hole in one. Tracy Lockaby said it’s the first they’ve ever seen, though Owen disputes that.

Tracy held the ball for Owen, saying they are going to put it in a nice box and hopefully frame a photo if they can find one of the moment.

Kuchar seemed just as surprised as anyone by the fortunate shot.

He said he’s always had trouble on 16 because his fade doesn’t work with the traditional Sunday pin placement of 30 yards from the front, 5 from the left, where the yellow flag nests in a little funnel within the green that the balls will track toward.

But Kuchar, already playing well on the back nine with consecutive birdies on 12-14 (and just one bogey on the back entire week), decided to release the club for a draw and not worry about the water on the green’s left.

The ball landed in front of the pin, bounced past it, caught the funnel and rolled into the hole.

“KUUUUCHHHH” erupted from the patrons in a noise that carried all the way to the clubhouse. Kuchar’s arms shot up and he began high-fiving everyone around the tee box. He said he held off celebrating until he was sure of the ace. It was his fourth hole in one on the PGA Tour.

“I still would like to see the highlights,” he said. “I would like to see if I got the Bridgestone B kind of lined up just right before it trickled in. I haven’t seen the whole thing.”

Kuchar shot 5 under for the round, finishing 5 under for the tournament and in a tie for fourth place. He stuck around and was one of the first players to congratulate Sergio Garcia for his victory.

“I felt like I played very, very solid golf for four rounds of golf,” Kuchar said. “As it looks, it looks like I’ve come up a couple short, but as a whole for the week I’m awfully pleased.”

The Lockaby’s, who said they remember watching Kuchar at the Masters when he was an amateur, only had one wish: That Joe could have been there.

“Wow, would he have loved to have seen this,” Jay Lockaby said.

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