Mark Hubbard hit his tee shot, dropped his club, called shot 'embarrassing' — and made ace

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — There had been four aces in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Now, there's been five. And none of the previous four looked anything like No. 5.

"I mean, honestly, it was pretty embarrassing," Mark Hubbard said after his opening-round 68 Thursday at Detroit Golf Club. "You've gotta be lucky out here, too."

Mark Hubbard tees off on the 18th hole Thursday, about two hours after he aced the par-3 11th hole in the opening round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Hubbard was 1 under on his round — nothing special on this morning, when scores were super low before the wind picked up after noon — when he stepped to the tee box at the 216-yard, par 3 11th, which has played as the toughest hole, not just the toughest par 3, in two of the first three playings of the Rocket Mortgage Classic (and second-toughest the other year). Hubbard pulled a 4 iron, swung away, and immediately dropped his club, put his head down and muttered to himself, "God, that's embarrassing."

Five seconds later, the ball landed on the front right part of the green, and kicked left — and three seconds after that, it rolled right in the hole.

Hubbard put his hand over his mouth to hide his reaction (we're gonna guess a big old smirk), as one of his playing partners said, "I'm not high-fiving you." Another said, "It doesn't count. You can't drop your club."

"None of them even gave me high-fives after," Hubbard said.

Did he deserve any?

"Absolutely not," he said. "No."

Here's the back story. Hubbard took a week off before coming to Detroit, and felt rusty when he got into town — and that continued for much of Thursday's round.

In fact, he said, he dropped his club on three of his previous four shots, before the ace.

His miss has been right, and he felt like the tee shot at No. 11 was heading that way again. He was wrong. And being wrong never felt so good.

"I just felt really stuck and I thought it was going to be way right of the green," Hubbard said. "I looked up and it was a perfect 1-yard draw. Wyndham (Clark, playing partner) actually was like, as soon as I let go, he's like, 'Dude, that better not go in,' but sure enough it landed and trickled in like a putt. I think that's probably going to end up being one of my favorite holes-in-one I ever had just because of the situation."

The ace was the first of the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic. Previous aces in tournament history included Ollie Schniederjans (2019) and Ryan Armour (2020) at the fifth, Troy Merritt (2021) also at the 11th and Scott Brown (2021) at the 15th. The ninth hole is the only par 3 at Detroit Golf Club that hasn't been aced in competition by a PGA Tour professional.

Hubbard, 33, of Denver, said this was his ninth ace, and probably his sixth or seventh in competition, including his college days at San Jose State.

And, yes, it was the first ace where he's dropped his club in disgust.

Though, his last ace was pretty memorable, too — or maybe not.

"The previous one ... was at Baker's Bay (Bahamas) and I had dropped about a hundred beers, so I don't know if I had shoes on. Probably not," Hubbard recalled. "Definitely didn't have a shirt. So that one was equally, you know, shenanigans as this one, but this one was fun."

The clip of the ace immediately lit up social media, including commentary from Hubbard's brother, Nathan, who tweeted out, "my brother is an idiot." Nathan also tweeted a photo from that Baker's Bay ace, though Mark Hubbard at least decided to wear a shirt — albeit, a Taylor Swift shirt — for that celebratory pic.

Mark Hubbard knew the ribbing was coming, and he knows he had it coming.

"Oh, yeah," said Hubbard, who was four shots off the lead set by Tony Finau (who had an embarrassing ace of his own, in 2018, in the Par 3 Contest at the Masters, when he sprinted to the green and rolled his ankle). "I deserve it. Like I said, it was embarrassing. It was fun, but it was embarrassing."

And, who knows, maybe a bit lucrative? Hubbard's golf bag this week has a hilarious hand-written note on the front of it, that reads: "Your ad here ... Buy Peppers a White Claw." Peppers is Hubbard's caddie, Kyle Peters, who's Venmo also is displayed on the bag.

Odds are, Hubbard bought him a beverage Thursday. After all, it's customary for a player who makes an ace to beer a round of drinks. Hubbard bought a lot, even sending a cooler of cold beers to the media tent.

Mark Hubbard and caddie Kyle Peters wait on the 17th fairway with his customized golf bag.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984