Talk about a mutually beneficial partnership. When Boca Raton mayor Susan Whelchel addressed the media about a month before the Allianz Championship, she raved that the tournament marketed the city to more than 83 million total television households worldwide through coverage on the Golf Channel. Plus, another 80,000 people attend the Allianz in person—half of them from outside city limits.
And what does Boca Raton and the Old Course at Broken Sound give the Champions Tour in return? In recent years, it’s been the backdrop for some of the senior circuit’s most memorable moments.
In 2010, it was Boca resident Bernhard Langer chipping out of a buried lie in the bunker at 18 and into the hole for an eagle that gave him a sudden-death playoff victory. Last weekend, it was eventual winner Corey Pavin hitting what some of the experts who witnessed it live were calling one of the greatest shots they had ever seen on Champions Tour.
I’m no expert, but I was standing about 20 yards from Pavin when he hit what he later called a “once-in-a-lifetime shot”—and I couldn’t believe he was even contemplating the effort, let alone thinking he could pull it off.
Here was the situation: Minutes after tying Mark Calcavecchia for the final-round lead at the 13th hole, a jacked-up Pavin pounded his tee shot at the dastardly, water-lined par-3 14th, which has danger left and long. It landed hard on back of the green, rolled down a hill and past the cart path, and settled against one of those thick, exposed tree roots that those of us who rarely find the fairway on Florida courses know all too well. The lie prevented Pavin from considering his normal right-handed play—so instead he grabbed his 8-iron, turned the club upside-down, and went all lefty.
After taking a good dozen practice swings, Pavin powered the blind shot back up the hill, ran it on the green—and raced after it as it trickled it to within 4 feet of the pin. He then made the putt for par. Pavin would go on to defeat Peter Senior on the first playoff hole to claim his inaugural victory on the Champions Tour after 35 starts—and his first win of any kind since snagging a PGA Tour stop in Milwaukee in 2006.
“I can’t think of a better up-and-down I’ve had in my career,” Pavin later said. “It’s not like I practice turning 8-irons over and [hitting] them left-handed.”
Even Senior, who was playing in the final group with Pavin, marveled at the miracle shot on 14.
“Unbelievable. He could have made 6, he could have made anything,” Senior said. “To come out the way it did, winners have a little bit of good fortune, and that was his. ... He’s that sort of player, though. He never gives up.”
Congratulations to the tournament director Ryan Dillon and the Allianz team for another outstanding week of golf—and to Pavin for adding yet another memorable moment to Boca’s golf résumé.