AUGUSTA, Ga. — No, I didn’t see it.
Go on, have a laugh.
After covering all these Masters, I was one hole away, following Phil Mickelson, when Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa made his double eagle at the 575-yard par-5 second hole on Easter Sunday at the Masters.
The genuinely miraculous shot, never before accomplished on that long swooping dog-leg-left hole in the previous 76 Masters, instantly vaulted Oosthuizen from third place into a stunning two-shot lead over Phil Mickelson and Peter Hanson.
The pair, playing one group behind, who didn’t even know what had befallen them until they approached the second green and saw that the red “7” with which Oosthuizen had started the day had suddenly transformed itself into a crimson “10.”
Thousands of fans saw The Albatross — which is a stroke better than a mere hole-in-one. The sighting is so rare it’s occurred only four times in all of Masters history, including Gene Sarazen’s famous double-eagle at the 15th in ’35, which led him to a green jacket and helped make the Masters an iconic American event.
A couple thousand fans saw the shot with their own eyes and will talk about it the rest of their lives, especially the way the 253-yard downhill four-iron shot spun sideways, almost a 90-degree turn, and actually went slightly above the hole as it trickled 60 feet sideways, like some kind of bizarre masse shot in billiards, until it flopped into the right side of the cup with its last breath.
And thousands, like me, will even remember that they heard the stupefying event — a roar so ridiculously titanic that fans around the first green couldn’t fathom its cause.
“Maybe Tiger double eagled the 15th, but that’s too far away,” said one fan.
Mickelson, who’d moved into a tie for the lead when Hanson bogeyed the first hole, was totally unstrung by the Albatross, missing a six-foot birdie putt at No. 2, then blundering totally with a triple-bogey at the par 5 fourth hole. At the fourth, he sliced so far right that he was in scrub behind a grandstand. Twice, Mickelson tried to hack the ball right-handed — first moving it only a few inches, then almost hitting himself with the second right-handed attempt. Then he flubbed an 80-foot flop shot into the trap before getting up and down for six.
But, within a half-an-hour, this Masters had gone from Phil’s to lose toOosthuizen’s to win.
“Unbelievable, just unbelievable,” said 63-year-old Ranny Reynolds from Reston, with his wife Ulli. “Oosthuizen (West-Hi-Zen) was outdriven by 30 yards by Bubba Watson. We thought he was going to lay up, like most of them after done all day.
“But he hit it through the opening in the middle of the green. It was weird. The ball turned dead right and went wandering down, wandering down — took forever — until it dropped in.”