These (LSU) Tigers Had A Ball At Olympic
By Dave Shedloski
San Francisco – Who knows what John Peterson’s mom said when she greeted him after the third round of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, but you could understand if Jan Herring Peterson had simply shrugged and said, “About time.”
In one of the friendliest pairings on record, Peterson played alongside fellow Louisiana State University product David Toms in the penultimate group, and showed his older peer a little something by acing the par-3 13th hole. It was one of the few highlights for either man as they backed up and made it a difficult, though not impossible, proposition to still achieve victory on Sunday.
Playing amid cheers not only for the Tigers but also competing shoutouts for their Southeastern Conference rivals, Peterson offset five bogeys with his first career ace and a late birdie for a scrappy 2-over-par 72. He stands tied for eighth at 3-over 213.
Toms, the 2001 PGA champion, struggled all day and came in with a 76 to slip back to 215, six off the 54-hole lead held by Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk.
“It was an enjoyable day for sure, but I think we both wish we’d have played better for each other,” said Toms, 45, of Shreveport. “It was fun. And then John made a hole-in-one. That's something he'll remember. He'll remember that forever. So it was fun for both of us.
“Well, that's consolation to a couple bad rounds – an ace.”
Peterson, 23, who won the 2011 NCAA Division I title, used a 7-iron on the hole, which was playing 181 yards. It landed on the front right portion of the green, caught the slope and glided toward the flagstick. When it went in, Peterson and his caddie, Gentry Mangun, tried to execute a chest bump that was not nearly as good as the shot they were celebrating. Toms had already started walking toward the green, but came back to give Peterson a high five.
“When it went in, man, I don't know what I did, I want to watch the replay,” said Peterson, who still lives in Baton Rouge, but grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. “I hope y'all have a replay so I can see it again. But I went nuts. I know that. I tried to chest bump my caddie and I missed and I think I hit his head. But it was really, really cool. First one ever. Being in the U.S. Open on the weekend was awesome.”
It was the first ace of the championship and the 42nd in U.S. Open history. The last hole-in-one at The Olympic Club came in 1998 and it also occurred at the 13th hole in the third round, when Chris Perry aced it from 196 yards.
As far as the cheers for the two LSU Tigers, both Toms and Peterson, who played a practice round together earlier in the week, said they quickly abandoned counting the shout-outs.
“It was cool for like two or three holes, but after that it was like, ‘Gosh, shut up,’” Peterson said with a laugh. “We got so many ‘Roll Tides’ and ‘Go Hogs’ and all that. I was fed up with it. I wanted to throw a ball at them.”
Asked if they were yelling for the Tigers or for Tiger, as in Woods, Peterson replied, “Well, we got both. I don't think they knew who I was anyway, so that was all right.”
A good round Sunday and Peterson can earn an invitation to the Masters if he’s among the top eight players and ties. But even short of that, he made an ace in the U.S. Open. That’s in the record books forever.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.