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Oosthuizen's albatross a feat in itself

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Louis Oosthuizen tips his cap after hitting a double eagle two on the par 5 second hole during the fourth round of the Masters on Sunday in Augusta.

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AUGUSTA — Louis Oosthuizen casually tossed his ball into the crowd after he plucked it out of the hole on No. 2.

The fan, Wayne M. Mitchell, seemed more excited than the 2010 British Open champion when he snagged the ball. And he should have been. There are only three others like it.

Oosthuizen dropped his approach shot on the par 5 2nd well on left side of the green, well away from the right-back pin placement, but the ball trickled down the sloped green and fell right into the cup for a double-eagle 2 dropping him to 10-under and into the tournament lead at the time.

By day's end, the South African came up one shot short of a second major championship losing on the second playoff hole to Bubba Watson, but he leaves with the Large Crystal Bowl, an award given to every player with a double-eagle at the Masters.

And far fewer have those than a green jacket.

Oosthuizen' albatross was the fourth in Masters history, the first on No. 2, breaking an 18-year drought between the rarest of scores.

There are four par 5s at Augusta National and each has one double-eagle.

“When something like that happens early in your round, you think that this is it,” Oosthuizen said. That was my first double-eagle ever.”

The excitement of the shot rattled Oosthuizen until he reached the back nine.

“It was tough … to get my head into it,” Oosthuizen said. “It took about seven holes for me to get my mind set again.”

By the time Oosthuizen made it to 11, he'd given two of the three strokes back and needed and played the final five holes 2-under to force the playoff with Watson.

“I felt when I got to the 11th, I felt fine,” he said. “I knew I was swinging it well. I just wanted to give myself birdie opportunities, because I was putting it brilliantly the whole week.”

Being one of just four to record an albatross in the history of the 78-year tournament puts Oosthuizen in small, but marginal, company.

Well, after the first one.

Number one came in 1935, during the second Masters.

Dubbed “the shot heard round the world” at the time, Gene Sarazen knocked in a 4-wood from 235 yards out on No. 15 in the final round to tie Craig Wood and force the only 36-hole playoff in Masters history. Sarazen won the playoff for his only Masters championship.

But the shot and the ensuing win earned Sarazen his name on the bridge at No. 15 on the 20th anniversary of his history-making shot.

Oosthuizen's runner-up finish, will most likely not earn him a tree or plaque, but he's already much more accomplished than the two others with the Large Crystal Bowl.

Thirty-two years after Sarazen's shot, Bruce Devlin took a 2 on No. 8 in the tournaments first round. He road that momentum to a top 10 finish and finished the weekend in the top 10.

Twenty-eight years would pass until albatross No. 3, this one a meaningless double-eagle on the final day by Jeff Maggert, who just cracked the top 50 in that tournament. Combined, Maggert and Devlin won 11 PGA Tour events in their careers.

When Oosthuizen made the shot, Watson, his playing partner said he wanted to run over and give him a high-5.

“It would have been fine,” Oosthuizen said, the joked. “If he had come a little later, I would have knocked him out probably.”

And the ball he causally tossed away was returned to the club and as Oosthuizen walked out of his interview he was welcomed to Masters history by a man in a green jacket. Something he'd prefer much more than a ball or a crystal.

“It was a strange day,” Oosthuizen said.