The rarest shot in golf – a double eagle – has occurred only four times in Masters Tournament history.
A combination of skill and luck to make such a shot comes around only so often. Fortunately for the Masters, just such an occurrence came early at Augusta National Golf Club.
On the afternoon of April 7, 1935, Gene Sarazen was chasing clubhouse leader Craig Wood. Sarazen trailed by three shots with just four holes to play and needed a miraculous finish to catch Wood.
After a decent tee shot at the par-5 15th, Sarazen had 235 yards left. His 4-wood shot cleared the stream in front of the green, hit the bank and rolled into the cup for double eagle.
Sarazen parred the final three holes to force a 36-hole playoff, which he won the next day.
There’s little doubt that the Masters still would have gone on to bigger and better things without Sarazen’s “shot heard ’round the world.” But the shot gave the tournament an instant boost and laid the groundwork for the excitement that is produced each spring.
“There had never before been a shot in an important tournament as sensational as that double eagle, and one can understand how nearly everything else about that Masters has been forgotten – Sarazen’s three closing pars, for one thing, and the playoff, for another,” Herbert Warren Wind wrote in Following Through.
In the 75 Masters played since Sarazen’s double eagle, only three other albatrosses have been made. By comparison, there have been 24 holes-in-one during tournament play.
It took more than 30 years after Sarazen’s feat for another to be recorded. That came in the first round in 1967 by Australian Bruce Devlin, who called it a “perfect golf shot.”
“It hit on the front of the green, rolled right around the corner and went right in the hole,” said Devlin, who used a 4-wood from 248 yards on No. 8. “I could understand it if the flag was in the middle of the green, but it’s almost impossible to get a wedge up there.”
The third double eagle came in 1994 when Jeff Maggert’s 3-iron shot from 222 yards found the cup at the 13th.
“I was pretty lucky that it went in,” Maggert told reporters. “It was going pretty fast when it hit the pin. It hit the pin and went straight down in the cup.”
The last par-5 hole to yield a double eagle was No. 2, where South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen made one in the final round of the 2012 tournament.
Oosthuizen chased a 4-iron onto the green from 253 yards and watched in amazement as the ball rolled onto the green, then headed right and found the cup.
Of the four, only Sarazen was able to parlay his double eagle into a Masters victory, but Oosthuizen came close. He eventually lost a sudden-death playoff to Bubba Watson, who also was paired with him in the final round.
“Bubba said later he felt like running over and giving me a high-five,” Oosthuizen said. “I wish he had; that would have been fun.”