Owen Lockaby’s favorite golfer used to be Tiger Woods.
It’s now Matt Kuchar, after he got the autographed souvenir of a lifetime during the final round of the Masters Tournament on Sunday.
Kuchar, a St. Simons Island, Ga., resident who staged the biggest move up the leaderboard in the final round, made the 18th hole-in-one at the par-3 16th to cap a second nine in which he played five holes in a row at 5-under, starting with a 30-foot birdie putt at the other par-3 on the inward nine, No. 12.
Kuchar matched the day’s low round of 67 and finished in a tie for fourth at 5-under-par , four shots out of the Sergio Garcia-Justin Rose playoff. It was Kuchar’s fourth top-10 finish at Augusta, all in the past six years.
Kuchar had 180 yards to the hole at No. 16 and said it was a perfect 7-iron for him. The ball landed slightly to the right of the hole and curled in.
“There was no debate about the club,” Kuchar’s caddie, John Wood, said. “It was a perfect number for him.”
After retrieving the ball from the hole, Kuchar spotted Lockaby, a 10-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., sitting along the front row of patrons behind the green. It wasn’t hard: Lockaby was wearing a bright orange shirt with a straw hat reminiscent of past Masters champion Sam Snead, and adorned with the large “Arnie’s Army” button given to patrons during the first round Thursday.
Kuchar signed the Bridgestone No. 1 ball and flipped it to Lockaby, whose smile then became as broad as Kuchar’s.
“I got him the hat because I thought it might get him noticed for some autographs,” said Owen’s mother, Tracy. “We never thought it would get him that kind of attention.”
Owen was pretty much speechless, even 30 minutes after Kuchar went through.
“I just sat there,” he said. “Then Matt gave me the ball.”
Tracy Lockaby said Owen’s father, Jay, has been coming to the Masters for 30 years, and Owen has never missed one.
“He’s been to 10 — in you count one where I was pregnant,” she said.
Kuchar said giving the ball away was something that went through his mind as soon as he got to the green.
“You see kids of a certain age and you know that a memento will be special to them,” Kuchar said. “The cool part of our job is making a kid’s day. I’ve got enough hole-in-one balls.”