Zach Manning went to his first PGA golf tournament today, the Tour Championship in Atlanta. He was there mostly to see his favorite golfer, Rory McIlroy.
“I was sticking with him as much as I could,” says Manning, a 25-year-old Auburn fan who lives in Wetumpka.
On the way to par-4 14th hole, Manning watched McIlroy make a young fan’s day. “This little boy was probably four or five, and you could tell he was a real big fan of Rory. Rory tossed the kid a ball out of his bag,” Manning says. “He talked to the little boy and his dad. I was like, ‘man, that’s really cool of him to do that.'”
A few minutes later, Manning had a Rory McIlroy golf ball of his own.
Manning said that for the 14th, he made his way “down the side of the fairway to where we thought his second shot would be.”
Turns out he was exactly where McIlroy’s second shot would be.
“He hit drive off his tee box, and there were a couple of trees to the right. Everybody was hollering ‘ball right, ball right.’ I tried to get further under the trees so I wouldn’t’ get hit.”
It didn’t work. (Can’t see the video? Try here.)
“I heard the ball hit a limb, then it hit me in my side,” Manning says. “I thought it just bounced off me. Me and a couple of guys standing there were looking around to see where it had landed, and someone goes ‘check your pocket.'”
“I reached in there and felt it. I was in complete shock”–and at first at a loss of what to do.
He kept the ball in his pocket until McIlroy and his Caddy showed up a couple of minutes later.
“We had to actually wait on an official to tell us what to do, nobody really knew what to do.”
While they figured out, there was nothing much to do except to talk Auburn football with the current No. 1 golfer in the world.
“We talked about Auburn,” Manning says. “He saw my shirt and asked me if Auburn was playing this week. I told him no, we had Kansas State next week. He said ‘do you think Auburn is going to be as good as last year.’ I told him ‘I feel like we’re going to be better than last year.'”
McIlroy was eventually allowed to take a free drop, and wound up putting for par.
“I had a nice conversation about Auburn football,” McIlroy told Golf Channel announcers (VIDEO), who later asked him about the one-in-a-million shot.
Actually, one-in-a-million actually probably doesn’t do what happened to Manning justice.
“You have a better chance of winning the lottery than something like that.”
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More fun Auburn Golf Stuff:
* Chris Davis drawn runs past a Dufnering Jason Dufner in ESPN’s 2013 Year In Sports illustration
* Jason Dufner Dufnering in Auburn locker room
* Jason Dufner brings the Wanamaker Trophy to Auburn football practice, speaks on mental toughness
* ‘It’s an idea’: Jason Dufner says he’d be cool with replacing Toomer’s Oaks with his acorns from Oak Hill