OXFORD — Brandon Roberts had never hit a hole-in-one before Saturday, and he’s never flown on an airplane.
Consider Saturday a day for firsts for the former Oxford High quarterback … and then seconds for the guy playing behind him.
Roberts aced Cider Ridge’s 17th hole, and Guntersville’s Mike Lewis, lead shooter on the next group, made it back-to-back holes-in-one to highlight Saturday’s Sunny King Charity Classic action on Roberts’ home course.
Even sweeter? Sunny King organizers designated the hole a prize hole, with an ace earning two round-trip plane tickets to anywhere in the continental United States.
Roberts will fly. Whether Lewis also wins the prize depends on an insurance company’s interpretation of the contract.
“I can't answer with certainty until we consult with the insurance company on Monday,” Sunny King committee member Keith Howell said.
Roberts is just as uncertain to where he will fly.
“I don’t know,” said the 32-year-old hydraulic mechanic at the Anniston Army Depot. “That’s what I was sitting here thinking. I don’t know. I’ve never flown.”
Let’s get some housekeeping out of the way.
Cider No. 17 lists at 165 yards.
Roberts hit a pitching wedge, with playing partner Shane Lilly and the team of Gene Hicks/Andrew Brooks as witnesses. Roberts was the last to hit among the foursome.
Lewis, a 52-year-old financial advisor for Raymond James, had playing partner Cris Smith and the team of Chad Reavis/Chad Calvert as his audience.
Roberts/Lilly finished the day at 6-under-par 66 with a two-round total of 12-under 132. Lewis/Smith shot their second 61 of the tournament and stand eight shots back of leaders Gary Wigington/Freeman Fite in the Championship-Ford Mustang Flight.
Roberts and Lewis were very much still aglow when they completed their rounds, minutes after lightning struck twice.
Roberts said he was “dumbstruck” and “kind of jittery” after hitting his ace.
Cider No. 17 greets golfers with a high tee box, and they hit downhill to the green. Roberts and Lewis hit beyond the flag and got rollbacks.
Roberts said his shot landed about eight feet beyond the flag then rolled back.
“Everybody was just yelling, ‘Go in! Go in!’” Roberts said. “I just kind of stood there.
“When it went in, me and Andrew — which, we’ve played ball against each other and stuff — we started jumping up and down and high-fiving. Shane come running up out of the cart.”
The reaction registered behind them.
“We were playing the par-4 in front of the par-3, and heard them, in the fairway, yelling,” Lewis said. “Cris looked up and said, ‘Hell, they just hit a hole-in-one.’”
Lewis led off for his foursome and hit 20 to 25 feet beyond the flag.
“It just trickled back,” he said. “It almost stopped, it appeared, and then it disappeared. We just high-fived on the tee box.”
The hole-in-one marked Lewis’ fifth but first in a tournament.
“It’s more meaningful to do it in a tournament, especially when you’ve got a prize,” Lewis said.
Roberts picked up the prize sign and secured it with his and Lilly’s clubs on the back of their cart. Roberts and Lewis posed for pictures with the sign after completing their rounds.
Since Roberts was the first to ace the hole, he’s certain to get the plane tickets. If Lewis also gets plane tickets?
He and his teammate joked with their significant others.
“Heck, if we win that, me and Cris are going on a golf trip,” Lewis said with a laugh.