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STROKE OF LUCK

A veteran golfer uses a driver and a 4-iron hybrid to make a double eagle at Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club.

Joe Piccirillo just needed two clubs.

And perhaps a little luck to go along with his driver and 4-iron hybrid.

That's because this 65-year-old Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club resident picked up a double eagle on the 445-yard, par-5 No. 8 hole on Jan. 24 during the President's Cup tournament at the TBGCC course.

"I was 180 yards from the hole," Piccirillo said. "I hit a nice drive and (then used) just my 4-iron hybrid and it bounced, hit the pin and went in the cup. Actually, we were so far out, we didn't even see it go in."

Piccirillo, who finished the round at 79 and beat his opponent, Jim Gibson, in match play, says he has never had such a remarkable shot.

"I play good golf," said Piccirillo, who has been playing since he was 21. "But it was a little lucky - any double eagle is lucky in golf. I would say that it's a lot of luck being so far away. It's one thing if it's from here to here, but from 180 yards away, you're just picking a target and hitting.

"But if it goes in, you say, 'Thank you' and then go have a beer."

Double eagles are a rare score in golf. Some happen on short par-4 holes, when a golfer rolls his drive into the pin (also called an albatross).

According to TBGCC course pro Tom McKone, Piccirillo's shot is the first double eagle he's aware of at TBGCC.

"It's very rare to do it the way he did," McKone said. "To make a par 5 in two shots is genuinely pretty hard. It had to be one pretty good shot."

Piccirillo says none of the four men playing together actually saw the ball go in, and Gibson assumed it was in when he couldn't find it.

After hitting a good drive, Piccirillo took out his 4-iron hybrid and got hold of the ball. With the pin placed at the front of the green, the ball landed and bounced to the left of the pin, then actually hit it.

"When it went in, (Piccirillo) said, 'What the hell happened there?'" Gibson said. "I said, 'I think it went in the hole,' and then said, 'What the heck am I supposed to do now?' It was just awesome - just a beautiful shot. There's really nothing else to say."

The double eagle tied Piccirillo and Gibson in match play, then Piccirillo beat Gibson on the 16th hole. The consensus: Piccirillo was on fire following the spectacular shot.

"It was fantastic because he was down in his match," said Lou Cappucci, who was part of the foursome. "After that, he played good. Really, that double eagle turned his game around."

Gibson agreed, adding that the double eagle made the match interesting.

"That would rev anybody up," Gibson said. "He said (that shot) evened the match, and then we have a good match all the way. You could see the double eagle really got him going."

Lucky bounce or not, the ball still had to travel 180 yards before hitting the pin. And that's something Gibson realizes.

"It wasn't a funny shot," Gibson said. "It was a beautiful shot all the way. There's no doubt in my mind about that. He certainly deserves it."

Submit feedback, story ideas to Community Sports editor Mike Camunas at mcamunas@sptimes.com or call (352) 544-9480.

FAST FACTS

Joe Piccirillo

Age: 65

Occupation: Retired; was a supervisor for the U.S. Postal Service for 20 years.

Golf experience: 44 years

Handicap: 11

Did you know? Piccirillo is also director for tournaments at Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club, and like many of the TBGCC residents, he owns his own golf cart.

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