There are shots you wish you could have back, and then there’s what Hayden Buckley did Sunday at the WM Phoenix Open.
Buckley has already dealt with some disappointment this season, failing to convert a 54-hole lead at the Sony Open last month. He wasn’t in the same position this week in Phoenix, starting the final round 10 shot backs in a tie for 38th.
But that didn’t mean what happened on 16 didn’t sting.
Buckley entered the stadium hole and did what everyone wants to do on the tee of the 175-yard par-3: stuffed it.
His approach drew right into the back left hole location, checked and rolled out to just 2-feet-1-inch from the cup.
A firmer bounce and the ball could have dropped for the first ace of the week at the iconic hole, but nevertheless, the crowd erupted, despite the relatively early hour — Buckley started his round on the back nine.
It’s the goal of every pro when they enter the Phoenix Open, which is a designated event this year, carrying an enormous purse of $20 million, to walk down the 16th hole as the crowd cheers your way to a tap-in birdie on Sunday. Only that’s not how it went for Buckley.
Coming into the week, he was 177-for-178 on putts inside of three feet on the season.
That didn’t matter on Sunday.
His birdie putt powered through the break and lipped out, before stopping 2-feet-4 inches away, or three inches farther than his original putt.
The crowd, which gave him a hero’s welcome to the green after his terrific approach, quickly turned to boos. Just as quickly, Buckley brushed in the par putt without even thinking about it.
He walked off the green with his head down, certainly dwelling on the missed opportunity at the famed par-3.