Hayden Buckley’s incredible and historic round at THE PLAYERS Championship on Thursday included an Ace, a share of the lead, and two double bogeys.
Hayden Buckley had a feeling that something remarkable might happen for him this week. Turns out he was right, something exceptional did happen, but that was all just the tip of the iceberg.
The 27-year-old’s season to date is somewhat reminiscent of how his Thursday round at the 2023 PLAYERS Championship unfolded.
A solid start to his opening round which included two birdies and a bogey proceeded Buckley’s moment of magic on the iconic 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
Following in the footsteps of Shane Lowry last year, Hayden recorded just the 11th ace in the famous island hole’s history. With little to no wind to speak of, Buckley hit a sweetly struck tee shot with his pitching wedge from about 130 yards out into the Par 3 green.
After taking a slight hop his ball trundled down the hill toward the front pin placement before dropping into the cup.
“I had a little feeling something like that might happen this week. I don’t know, I’ve been hitting it well, but it’s always nice to see it happen on that hole, too.” Buckley commented when describing the experience after his round.
He was also prepared to celebrate this time after apparently having been given a hard time for his stoic reaction the last time he made a hole-in-one; at the Shriners Children’s Open.
"“I think there was a video that they posted, and I didn’t have much of a reaction. A couple ofmy buddies told me I should have more of a reaction, but I told them I was even par; I wasn’t the most thrilled to be even par.”"
The 27-year-old added. Hayden made sure to fully embrace the moment this time.
His incredible front nine continued on his very next hole, the difficult 18th at TPC Sawgrass. Having composed himself following the celebrations on 17, Buckley accomplished something that no one before him had ever done.
Hayden Buckley followed his ace on 17 with an immediate birdie on 18.
And made PLAYERS Championship history.
Unfortunately for Buckley, the magical stretch on 17 and 18 that had sent him to the top of the leaderboard evaporated on his back nine. He dropped shots on 3 and 4 before doubles on the short Par 4, 6th, and Par 3, 8th hole sent him tumbling back down the leaderboard at the PLAYERS Championship.
In many ways, Buckley’s round on Thursday was a microcosm of his season to date. Following a runner-up finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the University of Missouri product has since gone on to miss the cut in four of his last five starts on the PGA Tour.
Hayden could be on his way to another missed cut this week in Florida, but whatever happens from here on out, nobody can take away his magical and historical moments from Thursday.