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AUGUSTA, Ga. - The crowd noise blasted across three Augusta National fairways to the No. 16 green at the Masters on Sunday.
As Zach Johnson was facing a downhill putt off the fringe at 16, a roar grew, and grew, and grew some more, and was sustained for as long as you'll hear fans cheering at a golf tournament.
“I was getting ready to putt at 16 and said “Sounds like a 2 at 2,” Johnson said.
Meaning, someone had made a double-eagle at the par-5 2nd hole.
“They said “3,” and I'm like, ‘No, not a 3 roar. That's a 2 roar.' You can just tell with the roars. You walked up to the green and it got even more deafening.”
The person with the golf expertise was right. What those at 16 - and across the golf course - were hearing was the sound of people getting excited about the prospect of a double-eagle and then celebrating it when it happened.
The player who provided the stunning moment was Louis Oosthuizen, from 253 yards out on the 575-yard hole. His iron approach landed a little short of the green, kicked onto the green, and had a long roll to the pin on the back right of the hole.
It was instant golf lore. For those of us three holes away, and with phones off limits on the Augusta National grounds, we were left to guess if it was indeed a double eagle, and who the shot-maker was.
Oosthuizen's red number went from a 7 (under-par) to a 10 before Johnson would make his bogey putt on 16.
Coincidentally, the moment of one man's magic marked the start of the deterioration of what had been a very good round for Johnson.
He got to 16 at 3-under for the round and even for the tourney. But he bogeyed 16, 17 and 18 to finish at 3-over 291.
On those final holes, Johnson said he chose incorrect clubs and had incorrect reads of chips and putts. Before getting to 16, it seemed distinctly possible he could match the 3-under 69 he shot here five years ago when he won the Masters, which also was on an Easter Sunday.
He birdied two of his first four holes Sunday, and had birdies on the par-15 13th and 15th holes. He made three straight excellent par-saves on holes 10 through 12. But then came the closing holes.
“Very frustrating,” he said. “That's never how you want to end a golf tournament.”
Johnson now moves about three hours down the road to this week's PGA Tour event in Hilton Head, S.C.