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Ricardo Fernandez (left) and Preston Miller went into the record books on Thursday.
Preston Miller was living it up. The 13 year old was feasting on wings, cheese curds and 1919 Root Beer at Minneapolis Golf Club on Thursday, and why not?
A few hours earlier, Miller, who is about to graduate 7th grade but plays on the St. Louis Park boys varsity golf team, had just made his first career hole-in-one. He struck a smooth 7-iron from 121 yards to ace the 4th hole at MGC, a private club in St. Louis Park, Minn. Now he was back at the clubhouse with his coaches and a couple of teammates celebrating.
Things were great. It was a bummer, however, that Miller actually lost that hole-in-one ball — a Titleist 4 Pro V1 with his team’s logo on the side — a few holes later. No matter, the root beer hit the spot.
That’s when things got weird. Ricardo Fernandez entered the room, holding a golf ball with the same logo. It was also a Titleist 4.
Preston Miller after his first hole-in-one.
“He walked in and asked if this is one of our balls,” said Miller, who chatted with GOLF.com during his school lunch break on Friday. They said it was. “He says, ‘Well, I just hit a hole-in-one with it.’ I say, There’s no way because I just hit a hole-in-one with it, too, and then lost it.”
That’s when things started to click. They talked more and figured out it was the same ball; it had to be.
One ball. Two aces. Two different holes. Two different golfers. They had never met before.
Crazy stuff, right? Here’s how it happened.
After Miller’s ace on the 4th hole — it bounced twice and rolled in to a cup cut on the bottom tier of the green — he celebrated with his group, texted his parents, Jon and Sadie, and then went on with his round.
He was still using the hole-in-one ball when he got to the 7th hole, and that’s when he pulled his drive left on the dogleg right par-4. He found it, but the high cut he tried to play over some trees clipped the top, and he never saw it down. He looked for it for a while, both because he didn’t want to take a penalty and, well, you know. But alas, the ball was gone.
That’s where Fernandez comes in. He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he found Miller’s ball while looking for his own on the 12th hole, which runs next to the 7th.
He eventually found his own ball on the 12th, but after losing another he put Miller’s in play. And he was still using it when he aced the 181-yard par-3 16th.
Back at the clubhouse, Fernandez was told a member of the St. Louis Park golf team also made an ace. That’s when he approached them, knowing it was their logo on the ball, but who would have ever thought it was with that same ball?
“He was just kinda mind-blown,” Miller said. “He didn’t believe it really.”
The final landing spot for the storied golf ball.
Miller lipped out for 79 on the 18th green on Thursday (the golf Gods don’t let you win ’em all), but 80 is still a good score for him. He usually shoots around 80 to 85, and his low round in competition is 78.
This is Miller’s first year on the varsity team — his brother Landon, 15, is also on the team, and has a hole-in-one as well — and next up is the second day of the postseason tournament, which resumes Monday. But don’t expect this ball to try for a third ace.
After Fernandez and Miller took a couple of pictures at the club, Fernandez let Miller keep the Titleist. It’s now in his room. And no, he says, it’s not leaving.
Josh Berhow is the managing editor at GOLF.com. The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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