Golf

After virtuous gesture to 'rattled' opponent, pro records breakthrough win

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Trace Crowe won the NV5 Invitational last week for his first-career victory.
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Remember the near DQ because of a ball mix-up? Well, the story gets even better.
If you need a refresher, Korn Ferry Tour pro Ryan McCormick typically plays a 2023 model Titleist ProV1, and that’s the ball he used in his opening-round 60 at the NV5 Invitational in Illinois last week. But that night, McCormick rolled a few putts back in his hotel room with a 2021-22 model Titleist ProV1. After he’d finished, he slipped the ball back into his bag.
When he played his first hole the following day, McCormick mistakenly grabbed the older model ball out of his bag, of which he only had one.
All PGA Tour-sanctioned events use the model local rule G-4, which is also known as the “one-ball rule.” This means that whatever ball model you start the round with, you must use that same one for the entire round. In other words, if McCormick lost his sole 2021-22 ball during play with no back-ups, he would be disqualified.
“Literally if I lose this ball, my tournament is over,” McCormick said as he recounted his dilemma after the second round. “I was like, [this is] insane.”
When McCormick realized his error, he went into a bit of a panic. He alerted tournament officials of his predicament, and they began searching the property for some back-up balls. Luckily for McCormick, officials were able to find some spares — courtesy of another pro in the field, Trace Crowe — and McCormick was able to finish the round without incident.
“It’s the most rattled I’ve ever been in my career,” McCormick said later. “I can’t believe I did that.”
Now, this is where things get really weird. After posting scores of 60, 69 and 65, McCormick earned himself a tee time in the final pairing. His playing partner? You guessed it: Crowe, who was winless in 28 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Almost like destiny 😳

Two days after @TraceCrowe donated golf balls to @McCormick__Ryan after Ryan started his round with an older model than the others in his bag, the two are paired together in the final group @NV5Invite. pic.twitter.com/HcUvPdnSMI
“I mean, that’s just the way the world works right there,” Crowe said. “It’s going to be awesome.”
Call it fate, destiny or just a coincidence. Whatever it was, it was pretty darn cool.
“Clearly some karma going his way, I guess from yesterday,” McCormick said.
That karma continued in the final round with McCormick and Crowe each firing 66s on the closing 18. But with Crowe holding a one-shot edge heading into the final round, he beat out his playing partner by a shot to get into a playoff with Patrick Fishburn.
In extra holes, the golf gods sided with Crowe. After both players birdied the 18th the first time around, Crowe needed just a par on the second hole of overtime to seal the victory. The 5 from Fishburn was just his second bogey all week.
“It’s a crazy feeling,” Crowe said. “It’s been a long, tough, interesting season. To be standing here, like I said, it still hasn’t sunk in. I’m just blown away just how good everyone is, and I feel like I just played unreal the last couple days.”
A little good karma surely didn’t hurt, either.

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.
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