RICKIE FOWLER has a new fan after sinking a hole-in-one that netted $1million for Ernie Els autism charity in Florida this week.
Els gave the 2010 PGA Rookie of the Year a bear hug for sinking the 113 yard ace at the Old Palm Bay Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
The 19th hole shoot out was the final event of the annual Els for Autism charity Pro-Am.
One by one, some of golf’s best, including Jack Nicklaus, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Brooks Koepka, Nick Price, Thomas Aiken and Vijay Singh had all tried to find the cup. Some came close, drawing gasps from the crowd, but it appeared there would be no hole in one.
“Is there anybody else?” asked Els, looking around. “Rickie, come up here.” Fowler, 27, had already put his clubs away, so he borrowed a wedge from Luke Donald. He stepped, swung, the ball soared and then hopped in the hole.
Amid pandemonium from the crowd, Els grabbed Fowler in a bear hug and lifted him in the air. “This man – he is my hero,” said Els. “The hairs on my arm are still standing up. It’s a million bucks—we can start the second phase now.” Els’ son Ben, who has autism, was the inspiration for the charity, which prior to this day had raised $7 million.
“You couldn’t ask for a better moment to have something like that happen,” said Fowler, minutes after taking the shot. “It’s definitely special to be a part of days like this. This is the cherry on the top.”