ST. ANDREWS, Scotland, October 5. MICHAEL Phelps was back in fighting form today with a much-improved second-round performance at the Alfred Dunhill Links Pro-Am golf tournament, vaulting up the rankings into the top 100.
Phelps and professional golfer Paul Casey played together at the Kingsbarn Golf Links today, where the two shot 9 under par to put themselves in 87th place among the 168 teams playing in the tournament. After yesterday's play at Carnoustie, the pair were in a tie for 160th place.
The pro-am tournament features teams consisting of a professional golfer and amateur player. Each day the teams play 18 holes, rotating among three courses: Kingsbarn, Carnoutie and the Old Course at St. Andrews. The teams that rank in the top 20 after three rounds will play a final match at St. Andrews.
Phelps was instrumental in the move up the rankings today, posting an eagle on the par-4 sixth hole. From a distance of about 150 feet, Phelps was able to sink the putt, eliciting Tiger Woods-like fist pumps from the Olympic champion.
“It was the longest putt I've ever had, and to see it go in was a pretty cool feeling,” Phelps said.
Video of the Phelps putt, courtesy Telly.com
With Phelps entering the tournament with a 16-handicap, that sixth hole garnered him his first-ever net hole-in-one. Since he only took two shots on the sixth hole, his handicap allowed him to subtract one of the shots. Phelps kept the momentum going into the par-4 seventh hole with an eagle (three shots minus one from handicap).
It's not the longest putt ever sunk, according to various reports. Dave Pelz holds that standard with a 375-foot putt at St. Andrews in 2003.
The sixth hole was a major rally for Phelps after losing his ball in the rough on the third hole, where Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius also saw his ball go into the tall weeds on the course.
Results show that Phelps and Casey shot a 63 on today's course, a vast improvement over yesterday's 72. The leaderboard only displays the score of the golfer with the lowest shot number, but does not say which golfer was responsible for the score. Branden Grace and Gaynor Rupert, the leaders after the first day, fell one place to second, one stroke behind Thongchai Jaidee and Hugh Connerty Jr.
Casey had his own memorable moment today, when a stray dog ran onto the course at the 12th hole, grabbed the ball Casey was about to putt and ran away with it. After a spectator retrieved the ball and an official deemed it suitable for play, Casey failed to sink the putt in one shot, resulting in a birdie shot.
Among professional golfers, Casey stands in a tie for 56th place. Grace still leads all pro golfers after two days of play.