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Well, a hole-in-one certainly works. Defending champion Bubba Watson did just that during his practice round.

“Everyone is going to say he should have saved it,” laughed Fred Couples, who was playing behind Watson’s group and had a great vantage point for the ace. “He hit a good shot and it went in. I think that’s well worth it.”

And Watson got an ovation, besides.

“Oh yeah,” Couples confirmed.

Couples, a past champion himself, collected an ace of his own at Augusta National a while back, but it was on the par-3 course. Those aren’t nearly as rare. Ben Crenshaw made his hole-in-one on No. 7 of the “little” course and Nick Watney made another at No. 9.


MEMBER’S BOUNCE: Speaking of knocking it straight into the cup, Gene Sarazen made the first albatross on the par-5, 15th hole at Augusta National when he holed out from 235 yards with a 4-wood in the final round of the 1935 Masters. It became known as the “shot heard `round the world.”

Former USGA president Fred Ridley made the most recent 2, and no one saw it _ not even Ridley.

Ridley, a club member and chairman of the Masters competition committee, was playing in the late afternoon a few weeks ago when he hit hybrid for his second shot.

“We couldn’t see it go in,” Ridley said. “It was late in the evening and the sun was in our eyes. When we got to the hole, it was a weird feeling.”

It was the first albatross for Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion.

The club said it was only the fourth known double eagle on the 15th hole.


YOUTH WILL BE SERVED: Matteo Manassero is no longer the most precocious teenager at the Masters.

The 19-year-old Italian, who three years ago became the youngest player to make the cut at Augusta National, is paired for the first two rounds with Guan Tiangling, the 14-year-old from China who will soon own that distinction.

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