Holes-in-one lead to long shot Lexus prizes for golfing seniors

jshaffer@newsobserver.comJune 6, 2013 

— The odds of a typical golfer sinking a hole-in-one stand roughly equal to the chance of finding a pearl inside an oyster.

So when Kelly Ritter did it on the 11th hole at the Durham Senior Amateur, he won an appropriate prize: a brand-new Lexus, painted white.

One hour later, Gerry Silva stepped to the tee and knocked a drive that practically split the Earth open at Croasdaile Country Club. Another hole-in-one, another Lexus – thanks to a 1.5 million to 1 long shot.

It gets better.

When prize time rolled around, Johnson Lexus realized that its insurance policy covered the prize on Hole No. 2. Through a mix-up with its promotions company, the Lexus prize had been displayed at the miraculous Hole No. 11. Now, the insurers wouldn’t cover the expense.

But how do you snatch a pair of luxury cars away from a pair of senior-citizen golf heroes?

You don’t.

The dealership ponies up the cars anyway, at its own expense, handing Ritter and Silva the keys to two ES 300h luxury sedans.

“The odds of getting two holes-in-one, on the same hole, on the same day, and having the contract for the prize on the wrong hole,” said Sean Alizarin, community relations for Johnson Lexus, “that’s like hitting the Powerball down in Florida.”

“And tearing up the ticket,” joked tournament chairman Dink Andrews.

Durham Senior Amateur is the largest of its kind in the United States, Andrews said, and the late May championship marked its fourth year.

The 11th hole at Croasdaile is a par 3, stretching 171 yards.

Ritter played it first, using a 5-iron, wind at about 10 mph.

“I thought I had too much club,” said Ritter, 63. “One bounce and it went in.”

Silva teed up second with a 6-iron.

“It’s a pretty straightforward hole,” said Silva, 67, “but it’s well-banked, and there was a breeze to the left. I thought I’d play to the left and let the wind bring it back, and then I thought, ‘Gee, I’m over-thinking this.’ ”

That made Silva’s second-ever hole-in-one; Ritter’s third.

As a bonus, they also win a Las Vegas vacation and a set of Callaway clubs.

When Silva picked up his car Thursday, he hadn’t even calculated the tax hit.

“I worked for the IRS,” he said. “Paying taxes is a privilege. Means you’re making money.”

Shaffer: 919-829-4818

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