(Reuters) - In any other year, David Howell could have been driving home in a brand new car after a hole-in-one at the BMW PGA Championship but on Friday his shot instead provided funds for charity as part of the European Tour's Golf for Good initiative.
Howell's stinging seven-iron tee shot from 184 yards at the 14th hole at Wentworth bounced once before diving into the hole, although with no crowds due to COVID-19 restrictions he was not quite sure of the final result until he reached the flag.
"It came out beautifully, right out of the middle of the club, maybe two yards left of where I was aiming if I was going to be honest, but a really lovely shot and it was always going to be close," 2006 winner Howell, 45, said.
"It was a bit hard to tell with the reaction from the cameraman and the stats guy what had happened but my caddie thought maybe it had gone in, but I wasn't so sure. So it was a very nice surprise when we got up there."
A sponsor's car is usually the prize for recording an ace at the 14th, with England's Chris Wood winning a BMW i8 in 2015.
A BMW 530e Touring car is on display behind the tee this week but Howell's hole-in-one will instead result in the value of the car -- 71,675 pounds ($93,206.17) -- being donated to the Alzheimer's Society.
"It's a lot of money to charity and it's a great thing. We're very lucky to be out here playing," said Howell, who finished with a second round four-under-par 68 to move safely into the weekend.
"We're in the middle of a pandemic playing here in a Rolex Series event, and we've been very lucky to get back on Tour and go about our business," he added.
Ireland's British Open champion Shane Lowry and home favourite Matthew Fitzpatrick pulled away from the chasing pack on the second day at the event in Surrey, firing 65s to set the clubhouse target at 12-under-par.
($1 = 0.7690 pounds)
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)