Video: Tommy Fleetwoods makes an ALBATROSS and Miguel Angel lands ANOTHER hole-in-one
Rory McIlroy's absence was barely noticed as an albatross from Tommy Fleetwood and a hole-in-one from Miguel Angel Jimenez lit up the third round of the BMW PGA Championship.
Fleetwood holed out with a seven iron from 198 yards on the fourth hole at Wentworth for just the third albatross in the history of the European Tour's flagship event, which saw defending champion McIlroy miss the cut on Friday.
And moments later, Jimenez recorded his third hole-in-one of the season - he had one in Abu Dhabi in January and won 288 bottles of beer for another in last week's Spanish Open - by holing out with a nine iron from 150 yards on the second.
Remarkably, Fleetwood went on to complete a "perfect set" on the par fives with an eagle on the 12th, birdie on the 17th and par on the 18th in a round of 65, which took him to 11 under par and three behind joint leaders Francesco Molinari and Byeong Hun An.
Jimenez was another shot back on 10 under after following the 10th ace of his career - which set a new European Tour record by edging him one ahead of Colin Montgomerie - with four birdies and two bogeys in a round of 68.
"That was about as good as you can play a hole of golf," world number 54 Fleetwood said of his first albatross. "Perfect drive, 198 yards to the pin. I was thinking one (club) less but went with a normal seven iron and it pitched seven or eight feet right of the pin and span in.
"Wobbly (his caddie Phil Morbey) was pretty excited because it was his choice of club, not mine. You have to try and calm down after that, and I fired a five iron miles over the green on the fifth with a little bit of adrenalin."
Fleetwood was the youngest player to win the Challenge Tour in 2011 and claimed his first European Tour title in a three-man play-off for the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2013.
He's dancing again! Miguel makes his 10th European Tour hole in one. http://t.co/zaPDfICg6A— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 23, 2015
Miguel's guide to celebrating a hole in one: Hole your tee shot ✓ Sheath your blade ✓ Do a dance ✓ High fives ✓ pic.twitter.com/K0UIxBv2px— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 23, 2015
But despite finishing 19th on the Race to Dubai last season, it took a change of coach after finishing 19 over par in the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March to kick-start his season.
"I played practice rounds at Doral with Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell and knew I could not compete with them," the 24-year-old added. "Any time you feel like that you have to do something about it.
"Doral is one of the toughest courses I've ever played and that was a nightmare. The course just completely ate me alive. The stuff we've done with Pete (Cowen) has been excellent and it's made a massive difference.
"The last seven or eight months I've had a lot of top fives and a lot of top threes. I've come close and people have just played better than me. There's not much I could have done about it. It's just such a fine line between winning and finishing second and third.
"You want to be remembered for winning and it would be great to win this week. This ranks as high as it can get. It's the biggest event on the European Tour and the European players' fifth major. So many great players have won it and it's one you want on your mantelpiece at the end of your career."
Jimenez had predicted on Thursday, after a near-miss on the 14th, that his 10th hole-in-one was "coming very soon", and was as good as his word after his tee shot pitched just beyond the flag and span back into the hole.
"It's very prolific this year, the last few months," said the 51-year-old, who is also the last player to ace the famous 17th at Sawgrass in the Players Championship.
"You get the right distance, the right club, hit a good shot and that's the ingredients you need to make a hole-in-one. It's nice to have the record."
Molinari had briefly been three shots ahead when he carded his fifth birdie of the day on the 13th, but bogeyed the next and saw playing partner An recover from a dropped shot on the 15th with birdies on the 17th and 18th to draw level.
"There were a few guys flying at the start with the albatross and other stuff you don't want to see when you're leading a tournament," said Molinari, who would secure his place in the US Open and Open Championship with a win on Sunday. "I stayed calm and overall it was a good day.
"Every tournament is different but to win here would be pretty much at the same level I would say as the WGC events. I think it's one of these tournaments that it's just a little step underneath the majors but definitely one that you want to have on your resume in your career."