AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Golf history is not clear on why a double eagle is called an albatross, other than the fact that it is extremely rare. It just seems odd because an albatross usually spells doom and a double eagle is good fortune. Then again, it ultimately was not enough for Louis Oosthuizen Sunday.
Making golf history was not enough to let him win the Masters. It will remain one of the great footnotes, not a headline.
That was a surprise to most people, including Oosthuizen. "When something like that happens early in your round, you think that this is it," he said after he lost to Bubba Watson on the second hole of a playoff.
It did change the dynamic for most of the day. Oosthuizen immediately jumped into the lead, from 7 under to 10 under, when he sank a 253-yard 4-iron for a 2 on the par-5 second hole. Everyone on the grounds had to notice the roar that swelled as the ball rolled from the front of the green to the back, from left to right. The sound grew as the ball paused on the lip and dropped in.
There was a sense that people were witnessing a feat that would last forever, like the double eagle Gene Sarazen made on the 15th hole of the final round of the 1935 Masters, which Sarazen went on to win in a 36-hole playoff. Stories at the time used the word "dodo" to describe the unique shot.
This time, Watson, playing with Oosthuizen, was excited. "As a fan of golf, that's what you love watching and I got to see it front row," said the eventual champion, who was four strokes behind at the time.
Oosthuizen seemed calm on the next tee, studying his yardage booklet and pulling out an iron on the tight third hole. But his motor was running. "It was tough the next five holes to just get my head around it and just play the course," said the South African who won the 2010 British Open in a runaway.
He did hold at least a share of the lead for the rest of the day, and thought he might have won the Masters with a good putt on the first playoff hole, No. 18. Oosthuizen still does not know how it stayed out, on the right lip. "There was no way it could stop turning. It turned the whole way, and about a foot short of the hole, it just stopped turning," he said.
So he will have to settle for the crystal that the Masters awards for holes-in-one and other special achievements, and for the knowledge that he was part of something special.
"It was a hard day," the runner-up said. "But you know, congrats to Bubba. He did brilliantly."