AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Champion Bubba Watson will always have the prestigious green jacket but, once the dust settles, the most stirring memory of the 76th Masters will be the wonder shot for the ages conjured up by Louis Oosthuizen.
Oosthuizen, who romped to a seven-stroke victory at the 2010 British Open, triggered one of the loudest roars ever heard at Augusta National with his astonishing albatross two at the par-five second.
The gap-toothed South African with the silky swing holed out from 253 yards with a four-iron to record the first albatross, or double-eagle, on that hole and only the fourth ever achieved at the Masters.
Playing with eventual winner Watson in Sunday’s final round, Oosthuizen watched as his ball landed on the front of the green in between the two bunkers and bounced along before rolling up the hill.
The fans crammed around the green applauded politely but the ball kept on rolling, tracking sharply from left to right before dropping into the cup with what appeared to be its dying breath.
The cheering reached an ear-splitting crescendo and the sound reverberated around the Georgian pines as players on every part of the course were alerted to something very special.
Oosthuizen thrust both arms skywards before high-fiving his caddie. Watson considered joining the celebrations but thought better of it.
“When we were walking up 18 during regulation, I told Louis I just wanted to run over there and give him a high-five,” Watson said after beating the South African on the second extra hole to claim his first major title.
“It was amazing to see the crowd. The crowd roared forever. As a fan of golf, that’s what you love watching and I got to see it front row. We got to hear some roars out there.”
Oosthuizen’s remarkable feat gave him a two-shot lead but the leaderboard was the last thing on Watson’s mind having witnessed such a special moment.
”I wasn’t thinking about he was leading at that time,“ said the American left-hander, who is known for being a shot-making genius himself. ”I wasn’t paying attention at the time.
“I was just thinking how amazing that shot was. It was his first double eagle, so special for him, too.”
Oosthuizen had perfectly executed his pre-shot strategy, but was dumbfounded when he saw his ball disappear into the cup.
“It was about 210 yards to the front and that was a good four-iron for me,” he said of the task facing him with his second shot from the fairway.
“I needed to pitch it about five, six paces on the green, and I knew if I get it right, it’s going to feed towards the hole. But I never thought it would go in,” he grinned.
While Oosthuizen ultimately fell short of a perfect afternoon when he was edged out by Watson in the playoff, his name will forever be etched into Masters folklore as one of the four ‘albatross’ men.
Gene Sarazen was the first, holing out with a four-wood at the par-five 15th in the fourth round of the 1935 edition, his storied “shot heard round the world” helping set up a playoff victory over Craig Wood.
That miracle shot, probably the most famous single stroke of all time in golf, pulled him level with fellow American Wood and Sarazen went on to win his only green jacket by five strokes in a 36-hole playoff the following day.
Australian Bruce Devlin followed suit at the par-five eighth in the first round of the 1967 Masters and American Jeff Maggert grabbed his albatross at the par-five 13th in the fourth round in 1994.
Editing by Nick Mulvenney