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The Albatross - three under par for a hole

BEST KNOWN ALBATROSS

The most famous albatross - or 'double eagle' as it is known in the US - was undoubtedly Gene Sarazen's "shot heard around the world", at Augusta National's 485 yard par 5 15th in the final round of the Masters of 1935.

Sarazen was three off the lead with four holes to go when his shot, holed out from 235 yards with a 4-wood, made up his entire deficit in one stroke and enabled him to tie Craig Wood, who was already in the clubhouse, after regulation play. The two would go into a 36-hole playoff the next day, which Sarazen won comfortably by five shots.

It emerged later that Sarazen's caddie - a man known as 'Stovepipe' because of the hat he always wore - didn't want him to go for the carry over the pond. His lie, apparently, was, "none too good". "He wanted me to play it safe,'' Sarazen would say. "He was a minister in town. He told me the money bag was very short (at church), so I should play conservative.''

Although Sarazen won seven major championships in his career, it was his only Masters, as well as his final major title. It was also his first participation in the Masters, as he had missed the first playing in 1934 due to a commitment to play in South Africa. He shares the record for victory in his first Masters with Fuzzy Zoeller, who won in 1979. He would continue to compete in the event until 1973, after which he became an honorary starter in 1981 until his death in 1999, at the age of 97.

LONGEST ALBATROSS

The longest known albatross was achieved in 1982 by Kevin Murray on the 647-yard second hole at Guam Navy Golf Club.

YOUNGEST ALBATROSS

Because an albatross requires very long shots, either a hole-in-one on a par 4 or a two at a par 5, very young golfers are not known to have made them.

We believe the youngest to be that by 16-year old Tadd Fujikawa from Hawaii , who holed his second on a long 628 yard par 5 at Crans-sur-Sierre golf club in Switzerland during the 2007 Omega European Masters.

ALBATROSS RARITIES

Every albatross is rare, but in the 2007 Players Championship at Sawgrass on the US PGA Tour, two were made on successive days. Hunter Mahan made the first, followed by Peter Lonard the next day.

If US PGA Tour statistics are to be believed, an albatross is ten times rarer than a hole-in-one. The 2002 Tour saw just four, but forty holes-in-one.

See also our feature on the condor (four-under-par).

December 2009






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