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Gilroy's nine aces beat long odds

Most of us can't win the Augusta Masters or the LPGA Championship, or the club championship, for that matter, but for one moment, one swing, we can be as good as anyone in the world.

Nobody can beat a hole-in-one.

It's one of golf's fascinations, the ace, that chance that we might see our ball leave the tee, fly true to the green and roll into the cup.

Robin Gilroy, a member at River Hills Country Club in Lake Wylie, S.C., had a bit of a premonition recently. The thought popped into her mind that she might be due to make another hole-in-one. It had been a couple of years since her last.

Bam! Within days, her 7-wood shot on the 119-yard third hole at River Hills found the bottom of the cup.

Big deal? Well, yeah. It was her ninth hole-in-one. Ninth!

Golf Digest has documented holes-in-one over a long period of time and figures the odds of an average golfer making one is about 12,500-to-one.

Somebody said luck is God in a scatterbrained mood, and they must be right. The great Annika Sorenstam won 67 tournaments but made only three aces. The great Ben Hogan managed only two. Robin Gilroy has made nine and there may be more to come.

The secret?

No secret. "It must be luck," she said, "but obviously they are good shots. Except for the one that hit a rock and bounced onto the green and into the hole."

Robin Gilroy is a 69-year-old widow who will tell you right now she looks much younger. She's the mother of three grown sons. She carries a handicap of 19, although a few years back she was a 12. She plays three or four times a week. She has never won a tournament.

Her aces have come over a wide range of places. Her late husband Vincent was a retired Navy captain. They lived in the Phillipines, where she made two within six weeks. She made one near Washington, D.C., two in Arlington, Va., two in Columbia and two at River Hills.

"I love golf," she said. "It's my life, now that my husband is gone. He made two holes-in-one himself. He was playing with me when I made a hole-in-one and he said, 'The beauty of it is I don't have to hear about it.'"

Robin said she was always a weak iron player, carrying several woods in place of irons, until her pro, Gary Troyan, improved her iron play.

It's traditional for anyone making an ace to buy a round of drinks. You figure her bar tabs must be running into five figures by now. Nope. Robin said she's treated her playing companions but never had to spring for a full house. The lady knows how to play this game.