Francesco Molinari's ace on final hole allows him to make cut at US Open; Sepp Straka has ace, too

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Francesco Molinari walked to up the final tee box on Friday essentially needing a miracle to make the cut at the U.S. Open.

The Italian delivered with the shot of the day — a historic hole-in-one on the 194-yard, par-3 ninth using a 7-iron. Molinari, who started the round on the back nine, was two strokes over the projected cut line at the time, but the eagle moved him to 5 over for the tournament and will allow him to play this weekend.

It marks the first time a player has made the cut on the number with a hole-in-one since the PGA Tour began keeping such records in 2003.

Molinari could barely believe his eyes when the ball hit the left edge of the green and starting tracking toward the cup and fell in.

His playing partners, Ryo Ishikawa and Sergio Garcia, had already hit their tee shots and were walking toward the green when they heard the roar of the crowd. They raised their arms in the air simultaneously before returning to congratulate Molinari on the tee box.

“I don’t even know what to say. Just incredible,” Molinari said of his third career ace on the PGA Tour. “... It was the last chance to have a chance to play the weekend. I saw we were still 61st (the top 60 and ties make the cut) at the time. Yeah, that’s golf in a nutshell.”

Molinari said he wasn't going for an ace, but just wanted to get the ball close and have a shot at a birdie — and then just hope for the best.

“I had just bogeyed 8,” Molinari said. "I was hoping I was able to par 8 and then having to make 2 at 9. With that flag, if you hit a good shot, you can get it within birdie range. But the chances are incredibly small, so I don’t know what to say.”

It was the second hole-in-one of the day on No. 9 at Pinehurst.

Sepp Straka had an ace earlier, six holes after he hit the flagstick on his way to a triple bogey.

Straka landed the ball in the front portion of the green, and it rolled about 30 feet into the cup. It was the first ace on the PGA Tour for Straka, who raised his arms in jubilation. He also made the cut.

On the short par-4 third hole, Straka's approach from 139 yards banged into the flagstick, with the ball rolling back off the green and into a bunker. From there, his shot went too far and rolled off the back right side, a rough stretch that ultimately resulted in a triple-bogey 7.

Straka, who was born in Austria and represented Europe in last year's Ryder Cup, shot a 2-over 72 on Friday to post 2-over 142 through 36 holes.


AP golf:

Steve Reed And Aaron Beard, The Associated Press