AUGUSTA, Ga. – At a place where roars are common, this might have been the biggest one ever.
Louis Oosthuizen brought Augusta National to life Sunday afternoon with the rarest of birds. His doubleeagle two at the par-five second hole pushed him into the lead at the Masters.
“That was my first double-eagle ever,” Oosthuizen said. “So it was tough. It was tough the next five holes to just get my head around it and just play the course.”
As his 4-iron shot headed toward the green, the crowd began to cheer. When it landed, the noise got louder. The ball took a turn on a ridge and headed toward the hole and the roars began in earnest. They grew and grew to a crescendo.
Then ... sheer pandemonium. The usually reserved Augusta gallery was going absolutely bonkers.
Oosthuizen’s Titelist had nestled in the bottom of the hole. The reaction of the patrons near the green said it all. This was no great shot. This was a once-in-a-lifetime effort. We saw history and we knew it.
And it put Oosthuizen in the lead on Sunday at the Masters.
The fans’ arms were waving, and the reaction made its way up the fairway toward those of us standing near where Bubba Watson’s 350-yard drive came to rest. It was as if the patrons had begun to do the wave. It was even a bigger ovation than Watson got five hours later when he beat Oosthuizen on the second hole of a playoff.
Even Watson was impressed. He turned toward the former British Open champion with a nod of approval. And then, for good measure, he birdied the hole himself.
“I wanted to run over and give him a high-five,” Watson said. “It was amazing to see the crowd like that. The crowd roared forever. That’s what you see as a kid. And I got to see it.”
The second hole at Augusta, called the Pink Dogwood, features two deep bunkers in front of the green and a large ridge on the putting surface. The typical Sunday pin is tucked way right, forcing players to use the ridge to get the ball close.
Oosthuizen’s drive on the 575-yard hole left him 253 yards from the pin. His approach shot split the bunkers and caught the ridge at a perfect speed. It broke some 50 feet to the right before it began to roll back down toward the hole.
A good shot became a great shot became the unthinkable.
It was the fourth doubleeagle in Masters history, the first one ever on No. 2. Now all four par-fives have had an “albatross,” as it is called. Gene Sarazen was credited with putting the Masters on the map when he knocked in his famous 5-wood on the 15th hole in 1935. Jeff Maggert turned the trick on the 13th hole in 1994 and Bruce Devlin did it on No. 8 in 1967.
Ultimately, Oosthuizen came up short of adding a green jacket to his collection of majors. The 2010 British Open champion from South Africa gave Watson his best shot, but came up just short.
“Bubba had a good stretch of four birdies in a row there,” he said. “I mean, he played brilliant. It’s a hard day, but you know, congrats to Bubba. He did brilliantly.”