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Florida man oldest to record hole-in-one

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. -- A 101-year-old golfer thought it was nothing special when he aced the 16th hole at Deerfield Country Club. It was, after all, his sixth hole-in-one.

But the 4-iron shot on the 108-yard, par-3 made Harold Stilson the oldest golfer to achieve the feat, breaking a 16-year-old record set by a 99-year-old Spaniard.

Stilson got a trophy for his first hole-in-one, sometime back in 1970 or 1971, but no special recognition for the next five, he said Thursday, a day after the record-breaking shot.

He was unprepared for the attention that followed -- calls from ESPN and David Letterman and a news conference in front of the club's putting green.

"For God's sake! For a hole-in-one?" he said.

Two years earlier, Stilson aced the club's 15th hole, but he was a little too young to hit the record books.

"Seventeen is next," he said, referring to the 312-yard par-4. "That would be something."

Stilson, of Boca Raton, Fla., flashed a big smile and joked with club members, who bubbled over the hoopla.

"When you can hit a 4-iron a hundred yards, that's a long way -- for me," he told a group of women who asked for golfing tips.

Well-tanned, slender and energetic, Stilson still drives himself to the country club for 18 holes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Sometimes on Sundays he plays nine holes "to find out what went wrong Friday," he said.

He took up the sport 80 years ago and had his best round -- a 1-under 71, when he was 26, said Stilson, a 27-handicap golfer.

On Wednesday, he was playing with neighbor Ken Fleming, 83, and Fleming's son Pat, 56.

He said he hit the ball, saw it was going straight and walked away without watching it.

"Someone said 'Uh, oh. I think its coming pretty close,' " Stilson said. Then they told him it went in.

His reaction?

"Eh, so it's a hole-in-one," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "A hole-in-one is just a ball that's well struck that has a little luck going in."

According to Golf Digest, Otto Bucher was the oldest golfer to record a hole-in-one. He was 99 when he aced the 130-yard, 12th hole at La Manga Golf Club in Spain on Jan. 13, 1985.

"He's a very popular member here," Ken Knight, president of the country club, said of Stilson. "He's an amazing individual and the members love to play with him. They hope some of his magic rubs off."

Playing to the cameras, Stilson went back to the 16th hole Thursday and teed up about a dozen balls. He didn't take any practice swings, just made sure his grip was firm and his club was lined up.

The first shot landed in a sand trap to the right of the green. So did the second.

"Well I'll be darned, it's still going in the trap," he said.

The next bounced on the green and rolled off the far end. The fourth stayed on the green, but well past the pin.

His advice for golfers is to and enjoy themselves and not tense up. He also revealed his secret for a long life.

"Eat a lot of popcorn and beer."