Sony Open leader Hayden Buckley has proven, once again, in golf, it’s better to be lucky than good.
Buckley soared into his first career 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour thanks in part to two eagles on the back nine Saturday, on his way to a 64.
The second was a more traditional eagle, coming on the par-5 18th when he played his second shot to just two feet from 221 yards.
But the first was even more spectacular. Or maybe surprising, to Buckley.
As the 26-year-old explained to NBC Sports’ Todd Lewis after the round, he “chunked” his 4-iron tee shot on the short par-4 10th at Waialae Country Club, leaving him an uncomfortable yardage for his second.
From 133 yards, Buckley said he tried to hit a 50-degree wedge as hard as he could. Immediately after hitting it, he started to lean to the right, a bizarre habit most golfers have when hoping for a ball to move in that direction.
Turns out he didn’t need the body language as the ball hit a few feet right of the cup, spun left and dropped in to catapult Buckley to 14 under and the outright lead.
“I pulled it so badly,” Buckley said with a laugh to his caddie, Brian Mahoney, as they celebrated the shot.
NBC Analyst Paul Azinger made note of Buckley’s apparent displeasure in the shot.
“You could see it in his body English,” Azinger said.
Buckley also later told Lewis he thought the strike was “thin,” although he was trying to do that to hit the ball farther.
“Watching it, it looked like it was in trouble,” Buckley said. “I think I might have even said some words about it missing the green.”
The pin on No. 10 Saturday proved difficult for many contenders as the green dropped off just beyond the back left pin. Ben An took seven strokes to get down from just 87 yards a few groups earlier.
Luckily for Buckley, his ball didn’t miss the green, and him not thinking the shot wasn’t any good doesn’t take the eagle off the board. Now he’s in position to potentially pick up his first PGA Tour win.