10 April 2012
He led in the final round of the US Masters after a stunning albatross, but South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen was ultimately defeated on the second hole of a playoff by Bubba Watson, who claimed the famous green jacket at Augusta National on Sunday.
Oosthuizen’s miracle shot came on the par-five second hole when he holed a four-iron from 253 yards out. It was only the fourth albatross in the history of the Masters and the longest in the history of the tournament, which was first played in 1934.
‘Crescendo of excitement’
John Sanderson, a spectator on the second, told the PGA Tour’s website: “The ball came in low. Then you had to jump because everyone was standing up and could sense something special. Then the ball made a wide circle and you could feel the crescendo of excitement as it neared the hole.
“Everyone jumped up and gave the symbol for field goal. It’s the universal symbol for success. It spread like a signal fire.”
In the second round, Oosthuizen had double-bogeyed the same hole. It is extremely seldom that a top golfer’s scores on the same hole differ by as much as five shots.
‘It was tough’
Ironically, Oosthuizen said afterwards that the three-under-par hole had acted against him in a way. He explained: “When something like that happens early in your round, you think that this is it. That was my first double-eagle ever. So it was tough. It was tough the next five holes to just get my head around it and just play the course.
Two holes after scoring an albatross, Oosthuizen dropped a shot. He dropped another on the 10th. “But I felt like I found my rhythm going down 11, and you know, played well in from there,” he said.
Birdies on the 13th and 15th saw the 2010 Open champion finish with a three-under-par round of 69.
Made a charge
Watson, meanwhile, made a charge over the back nine, sinking four birdies in a row, to force a playoff with Oosthuizen after carding a four-under-par 68.
The South African had an opportunity to claim the green jacket on the first playoff hole, the par-four 18th, but his putt for birdie was narrowly off target.
On the second playoff hole, the 10th, Watson found the trees, but then produced the shot of his career to put himself within reach of the title.
From 155 yards, with the pin hidden over the horizon, Watson let rip. “Hooked it about 40 yards,” he said, “hit about 15 feet off the ground until it got under the tree and then started rising. Pretty easy!” The ball stopped within 10 feet of the pin.
Two putts for the title
Oosthuizen’s chip approach was disappointing, resulting in a bogey. That left the big-hitting left-handed Watson with two putts for the title and he made no mistake to secure his first major victory.
There was a four-way tie for third between Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar, Peter Hanson and three-time champion Phil Mickelson whose challenge was destroyed by a six on the par-three fourth hole.
It was a disappointing title defence for Oosthuizen’s good friend Charl Schwartzel, who failed to fire throughout the event and wound up in a tie for 50th place on eight-over-par 296 after rounds of 72, 75, 75 and 74.
Trevor Immelman, the winner of the 2008 Masters, also struggled and had to settle for 60th place. He finished on 13-over-par 301 after rounds of 78, 71, 76 and 76.
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