Denny Hamlin hopes hole-in-one is a good omen

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 08: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway on March 8, 2019 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin hit a high draw with a 7 iron from 178 yards, and the ball never left the flag.

“The number was perfect, the distance was perfect, and I hit it perfect,” Hamlin said after Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice on Friday at ISM Raceway. “That one was pure all the way.”

When the ball disappeared into the cup on the second hole at Whisper Rock Golf Club on Thursday, Hamlin had the second hole-in-one of his life.

“Yeah, it was awesome,” he said. “I hadn’t had one since I was a 25 handicap, and it was 15 years ago. The first one was just luck. I didn’t hit it very good. I just luckily hit the pin, but this one was true the whole way.”

“I remember us talking to it in the air, saying, ‘Wow, this is close.'”

You’d think Hamlin would have kept the scorecard to frame and display after the round. Instead, he tore it up. Hamlin was so giddy from the ace that the rest of the round was eminently forgettable. What he shot for 18 holes remains a secret.

“I refuse to give that information up, because I tore the card up as soon as it was over,” Hamlin said. “I had a ‘7’ after it, I’ll be honest. It was a par-5, and I was not focused one bit because of the hole-in-one that just happened.”

“I didn’t want to keep the card or frame it, because that was one of the worst rounds I had all week out here.”

Afterwards, Hamlin treated golfers in the clubhouse to drinks in true hole-in-one tradition. On Friday, he was hoping the ace was a good omen for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“That’s the plan,” Hamlin said. It’s hard to believe you can have a bad weekend after starting it off like that.”

Hamlin has a formidable record at Phoenix, with an average starting position of 11.0 and an average finish of 11.6. His only victory at the one-mile track in the Sonoran Desert came in 2012, but he has posted 11 top-fives and 15 top-10s in 27 starts.

“We’ve had good success here,” Hamlin said. “We won here in ’12. We continually run here pretty well. Definitely had a winning car just a few races ago here at this race track.

“Certainly, it’s a track I’ve got a good feel for, knowing what I need. It’s just a matter of knowing whether you can get it all done in such a short amount of time during practices.”

Hamlin starts third Sunday.

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