Philadelphia, PA – With all of the deserved love going to Bubba Watson, it's easy to forget that Louis Oosthuizen nearly picked up his second major championship.
Much like his big win at St. Andrews in 2010, Oosthuizen was a surprising competitor last weekend at Augusta National.
In three previous trips to the Masters, Oosthuizen had not only missed the cut all three times, but he never broke par in any of his six rounds. What did he do last week?
Of course, he posted three rounds of 69 or better. Nothing like having a career week at one of the four majors.
Prior to his win at the 2010 Open Championship, Oosthuizen broke par in just one of 14 rounds in the six majors he had appeared in, and he had made the cut in one, the 2008 PGA Championship. Unfortunately, he finished last at that event.
Oosthuizen was propelled into the lead in Sunday's final round at Augusta by his double-eagle on the par-five second. It was the fourth albatross in Masters history.
The bad thing for the South African was that he played the other 17 holes of regulation in even-par as Watson rallied to tie him at 10-under.
Oosthuizen rarely flinched all weekend, but down the stretch he hit a pair of poor drives that cost him dearly. His second bad drive opened the door for Watson.
The duo was on the 10th hole, the second of the playoff, and left-handed Watson tugged his tee shot into the right trees. No one knew how bad the shot was from the tee, so Oosthuizen switched from driver to three-wood.
He flared it right, but got a lucky kick back into the fairway. Oosthuizen had a longer than normal second shot, which he left short of the green. Watson had just enough of an opening to create a remarkable shot onto the green.
Oosthuizen failed to get up and down for par, then watched Watson two-putt for par and the win. Watson became the eighth straight first-time major champion, a run that includes Oosthuizen's win at St. Andrews.
Prior to the 2010 British Open, not many people had heard of Louis Oosthuizen, and he even said in the media center at the Masters that, to this day, no one pronounces his name correctly.
The poor guy narrowly lost out on winning his second major, which would have given him one more than Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam, Tom Kite, Ken Venturi, Bob Charles or Davis Love III, and people still can't say his name right?
We should learn it, because the guy is going to be around for a while. The South African won't turn 30 until mid-October. He claimed his fourth European Tour title earlier this year and preceded his playoff loss at Augusta with a share of third place in Houston.
Oosthuizen went through a rough stretch last year in which he missed the cut in every other tournament during a 13-event span. He broke out of that up-and- down rut with six top-eight finishes in his last seven starts.
He has played less to this point in the year than he did last year, and that not only is helping his game now, but will help him keep his stamina up as the year rolls along.
Don't bet against Oosthuizen winning another major in the near future.
MASTERS ODDS AND ENDS
Sundays at the Masters are always special, but this past Sunday has to rank in the top 10 of all-time best final days.
Where to start with highlights? Bo Van Pelt fired the low round of the week, an eight-under 64. His round included a hole-in-one on the par-three 16th.
Adam Scott later aced that same hole.
Of course the second-best shot of the week was Louis Oosthuizen's double-eagle on the second. That shot was bettered only by Bubba Watson's shot from the trees on No. 10 in the playoff.
So those were the good things we saw on Sunday. How about the bad?
Phil Mickelson hitting two shots right-handed. They were worse than his tee shot that hit a railing and landed in some bamboo.
Hideki Matsuyama had the lead for low amateur until making bogey on two of the last three holes.
Henrik Stenson was in contention on Thursday and Friday. The first round ended with a snowman on the par-four 18th, then he had a double-bogey on the 17th in Friday's second round.
As if that weren't bad enough, in the final round, Stenson had a birdie, seven bogeys and a double-bogey en route to a closing 81. Miguel Angel Jimenez also closed with an 81 in which he had a birdie, two double-bogeys and six bogeys.
The dramatic swings at the top and bottom of the leaderboard are what make the Masters the most entertaining of the four major championships.
* A week after explaining how slow the LPGA played during their first major, the PGA wasn't any better. The first group during Friday's second round took 4 hours, 53 minutes and the final group was 5 hours, 45 minutes. Again, I realize there is a lot on the line, but both of those tournaments had smaller than normal fields. I can only imagine how long rounds will take at the U.S. Open with its tough course conditions and 156 players.
* The only thing better than Bubba Watson winning the Masters is watching Bubba Watson on the interview circuit. His appearance on the Letterman show the other night was simply awesome.