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AUGUSTA, Ga. — At Augusta National, history wafts through the pines and across the fairways. And every so often, it drops right in your lap.
Standing in the fairway at the par-5 second hole, one stroke behind the leaders and 260 yards from the pin, Louis Oosthuizen unleashed one of the most magnificent shots in Masters history. His approach hit 28 yards short of the pin, then rolled as if down a gutter, and with one final rotation, dropped into the cup. It was the first albatross, a 3-under-par shot (also a double eagle), ever made on No. 2, and only the fourth in the entire history of the Masters. And it vaulted Oosthuizen from back in the pack into a two-shot lead.
Smiling his characteristic gap-toothed grin, the one that's given him the nickname "Shrek," Oosthuizen then did the unthinkable: He tossed the potentially historic ball into the crowd.
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The lucky recipient? A gentleman by the name of Wayne Mitchell, who hails from New Tripoli, Pa. He caught the ball and almost immediately socked it into his pocket. "My biggest fear was that I would drop it," he said later. "I'm not a souvenir chaser. But there were about 100 people behind me who would have gone for it."
Once Oosthuizen and the following pairing, leaders Peter Hanson and Phil Mickelson, finished out the second hole, a couple of club members in green jackets escorted Mitchell and his wife away from the second green. Mitchell took a moment to speak to the media, but made sure to keep the ball in his pocket. You never know, after all.
How much might the ball be worth? Green Jacket Auctions immediately offered $20,000 on Twitter if Oosthuizen wins. But Mitchell said right off the bat that he'd be "respectful" of the club's history, and later carried through on that promise, giving the ball to Augusta National with no announced compensation. One can speculate that Mr. Mitchell may have an easier time finding badges to future Masters events, however.
Asked if he would play the lottery on his way home, he smiled and said, "Why would I need to?"
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- Louis Oosthuizen
- Augusta National
- Wayne Mitchell