Oosthuizen down but not defeated

2012-04-13 00:00

ALTHOUGH Louis Oosthuizen lost the play-off against American ­Bubba Watson for the 2012 U. S. Masters, he has some consolation in knowing that he has left an indelible mark on the tournament, with his remarkable four-iron albatross on the second hole on day four.

It was the fourth albatross ­recorded at the Masters, but the first captured by television cameras. Watched by millions of viewers, this three-under-par shot catapulted Oosthuizen into the lead, and it seemed at the time that he was ­destined to win the tournament.

­Unfortunately, he didn’t quite have his A game with him as in ­previous rounds, and he appeared to be ­playing defensively, but somehow he remained in the lead by holing a number of clutch putts to save par.

Bubba Watson, on the other hand, continued to be aggressive throughout his round, with his ­unorthodox lefty swing. It is a brute-strength brand of golf, which clobbers the ball prodigious distances. The lengthened Augusta layout didn’t make much difference to Watson. He was hitting short irons into the long par fours, where others were hitting long irons and hybrids.

This style of playing the game is certainly entertaining for golf fans. Spectators incidentally are called patrons at Augusta, and they were passionately supporting Watson. The partisan patrons were boisterous on the back nine and on two occasions, Oosthuizen, playing with Watson, had to hole out as the crowds were still cheering an earlier Watson birdie.

One wonders why Watson didn’t step in to calm them down, as the gentlemanly Jack Nicklaus often did in this situation.

The pundits say that only good putters can win at Augusta, but Watson isn’t known as a good putter, and with that coupled with his ­wayward tee shots, his Masters win has confounded many. It’s a paradox.

Golf is a sport that is played into old age for both amateurs and ­professionals, and it is felt that ­players with compact, orthodox swings and solid putting strokes will prevail. Can Watson win more­ ­tournaments? Only time will tell.

From the 19th hole

His request approved, The Witness news photographer quickly used a cellphone to call the local airport to charter a flight.

He was told a twin-engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport.

Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger.

He jumped in with his bag, slammed the door shut, and shouted: “Let’s go”.

The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off.

Once in the air, the photographer instructed the pilot” “Fly over the valley and make low passes, so I can take pictures of the fires on the hillsides.”

“Why?” asked the pilot.

“Because I’m a photographer for The Witness,” he responded, “and I need to get some close-up shots.”

The pilot was strangely silent for a moment. Finally, he stammered” “So, what you’re telling me, is ... you’re not my flight instructor?”

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