Donald Trump has claimed to have hit a hole-in-one at his golf course in Florida while playing with a former world No 1, Ernie Els.
The former president released a long statement about the shot, which was said to have happened on Saturday, late on Monday.
Earlier, a federal judge said Trump likely committed felonies during his attempts to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden. Also on Monday, the House January 6 committee recommended criminal contempt charges for two aides, Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro.
If the hole-in-one statement that followed was meant to change the conversation, it was not Trump’s first such gambit.
It was however marginally less dramatic than his move last week, when a prosecutor who resigned from an investigation of Trump’s business affairs said he believed the former president committed “numerous” felonies.
Trump followed that with a 108-page lawsuit alleging a vast conspiracy to delegitimise his presidency, led by Hillary Clinton.
In his Monday statement, Trump said: “Many people are asking, so I’ll give it to you now, it is 100% true. While playing with the legendary golfer, Ernie Els, winner of four majors and approximately 72 other tournaments throughout the world, Gene Sauers, winner of the Senior US Open, Ken Duke and Mike Goodes, both excellent tour players, I made a hole-in -one.”
Trump said he scored his hole-in-one on the par-three 7th at Trump International, West Palm Beach. He said there was both a “slight wind” and a “rather strong wind”, as he hit a five iron. The ball, he said, “bounced twice and then went clank, into the hole.
“These great tour players noticed it before I did because their eyes are slightly better, but on that one hole only, their swings weren’t.”
A video accompanied the statement. It showed Trump picking a ball out of the hole, but not the shot he said put it there.
Referring to Trump’s status as the 45th president, Els tweeted: “Great shot on Saturday 45! Fun to watch the ball roll in for a hole-in-one.”
It has been widely reported that Trump cheats at golf. In 2019, the golf writer Rick Reilly published a book, Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump.
As well as reporting routine rule violations, with sources including the PGA Tour pro Brad Faxon and the actor Samuel L Jackson, Reilly wrote about Trump’s habit of claiming dubious feats.
“Donald’s Trump’s boast about winning 18 club championships,” Reilly wrote, “is a lie that’s so over-the-top Crazytown it loses all credibility among golfers the second it’s out of his mouth.”
Reilly also wrote that Trump International in West Palm Beach, Florida, now the site of Trump’s claimed hole-in-one, “has a plaque on the wall that lists all the men who’ve won the men’s club championship. Trump appears three times: 1999, 2001, and 2009. But hold on. The course wasn’t even open in 1999.”
Reilly also examined Trump’s claim to have a handicap of 2.8. The man generally considered the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, plays off 3.4. In Reilly’s words: “If Trump is a 2.8, Queen Elizabeth is a pole vaulter.”
On Monday, Trump’s hole-in-one claim met with widespread incredulity – and plenty of comparisons to the famous tale of Kim Jong-il, a North Korean dictator who claimed to have hit 11 holes-in-one in his first ever round.
Responding to Trump’s statement, the Washington Post reporter Philip Bump spoke for many.
“After nearly seven years in the public eye,” Bump wrote, “Donald Trump has somehow managed to out-Donald-Trump himself.”