BELLEAIR — Ally McDonald talked with her caddie, Dan Chapman, before approaching the tee at the 12th hole on Saturday afternoon at the Pelican Women’s Championship. The winds were picking up and she needed to avoid water on her right.
Using a pitching wedge, she lined up and crushed the ball so hard a bit of sod came off the course from the impact. The ball landed on the green, curving toward the flag and dropping into the par-3 hole at the Pelican Golf Course in Belleair.
She immediately raised both arms while chuckling in disbelief, then high-fived Chapman and other players and caddies in her group. It was her first career ace.
“It was a really cool hole-in-one,” McDonald said. “We had some people standing back at the tee, some people on the green. So that was obviously like the biggest reaction for anything.”
It was the second ace of the tournament after Lexi Thompson got one Thursday afternoon on the third hole.
For every hole-in-one on the LPGA Tour, $20,000 is donated via the CME Group Cares Challenge. Tour players have raised $220,000 with 11 aces this year.
“It’s awesome,” McDonald said. “I think any time our tour does something that can give back to charities, anything, especially St. Jude, it’s just great to help kids. I know that the donation will go to great use with St. Jude for sure.”
On Saturday morning, McDonald went out to the driving range for warmups, practicing shots with a pair of AirPods in her ears. But she wasn’t listening to music. Instead, she was listening to a metronome — a ticking or beeping device often used by musicians.
“For me, it’s just a big timing thing,” McDonald said. “I can go hit putts and hit chips and full swing work, just trying to sequence things out.”
McDonald — who won the Drive On Championship at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga., in October — has used the metronome for a couple of years to time her swings. The metronome speeds up or slows down based on the shot.
“I feel like I can execute my shots when I want to, when I get really quick or something at the top,” she added. “So I really like the metronome. It gives me a lot of feedback for preparation to kind of go to the first tee and just have that timing in my mind.”
How Tampa Bay area players fared
Tampa resident Elizabeth Szokol finished the third round in eighth place shooting on par, logging three bogeys and three birdies. She’ll start Sunday’s final round at 5-under 205.
Bradenton native Jessica Korda dropped to 1-under 209. She notched two bogeys, three birdies and an eagle — her second of the tournament — to shoot 3-under 67 and tie for 15th.
Tampa resident Brittany Altomare finished 1-under 69 on Saturday with five birdies, one bogey and a triple bogey. She sits at 1-over 211, tied for 23rd.
Former University of Florida golfer and Orlando native Sierra Brooks shot 1-over 71 with four bogeys and three birdies. Brooks, one of three sponsor exemptions, is tied for 54th at 6-over 216.
Seminole native and Gulfport resident Brittany Lincicome tallied a double bogey, four bogeys and a birdie, shooting 75 to move to 6-over 216. She’s tied for 54th.