It’s nothing new for Aaron Wise to be in contention in at a top amateur tournament.
What was different, though, even to the world No.8, was an ace on one of the world’s great courses to kickstart his Australian Master of the Amateurs campaign.
Wise, based at the University of Oregon, ultimately signed for a five-under 67 that left him tied for second place one behind first-round leader, Victorian Zach Murray, at Royal Melbourne.
But he’ll remember it forever more as the site of his second career ace.
“I hit a seven-iron to that back left pin and kind of tugged it just a hair, but it hit up on a slope and rolled down and it was a special moment when it went in,” the affable American said of a hole ranked by some pundits as among the best global par-threes.
“I’ve heard that’s one of the top 18 holes (in the world), so that just made it incredible.
“I had one five or so years back at a course near where I lived in southern California, but nothing like a Royal Melbourne and I heard they just re-did the green and I was the first one to have a hole-in-one since, so that’s just awesome.”
The green was renovated recently with subtle sand build-ups from bunkers on either side of the long green removed.
“It was a great way to start the year,” the American beamed.
Wise was happy with his 67, saying the course had played far harder than in practice rounds, living up to its reputation.
“It’s hard,” he said with a cheeky smile.
“The pins were in the middle during the practice rounds. I walked by (the 18th) green to get to the practice chipping area (before my round) and saw them put it three (metres) from the right, all the way back next to that bunker and I thought, `It’s going to be a different test today’.
“But it was a good day for me.
“The first four holes are scoreable, then after that it’s just `hang-on mode’ and make your pars and I was, for the most part, able to do that.
“So I was five under through five and from there I played even and that was pretty good because we had some rain showers, it got windy and then it got hot – I’ve heard that’s pretty typical for Melbourne,” he joked.
“It’s such a great course … probably the best course I’ve played in my life. To come out here and play this course like that is an awesome feeling.”