Eagles fly at Augusta
The roars were restored in Masters Round 3. You could hear the thunderous ovations a mile or more away.
That meant a couple of things. One, something special was going on. Two, it created a guessing game for the thousands on the Augusta National grounds. Hear unusual noise? Make an educated guess on the result.
Four bursts of prolonged shouting reverberated through the pines in about half an hour. Bang, bang, bang, bang. Fireworks on the back nine.
My perspective came while walking in Tiger Woods’ gallery. The first from the direction of the 13th green as Woods was on 11. The sense was Phil Mickelson had eagled 13. He did. Moments later, the scoreboard left of the 11th green moved Mickelson from 7- to 9-under. When it did, the crowd went wild, as if it had witnessed the eagle, as if there’s no question which player the fans want to win.
As Woods walked off the tee at 13, the highest decibels of the week came from the direction of the green on the par-4 14th. At the time, I was visiting with Woods’ coach, Hank Haney.
“Sounds like someone holed out for eagle at 14,” Haney said.
“Maybe Phil just hit it stiff at 14,” I said.
“Stiff?” Haney said. “It sounded louder than that.”
It was. Mickelson holed out for an eagle 2 at 14. The evidence came moments later when the board moved Mickelson from 9- to 11-under.
As Woods walked off the 14th tee, another crazy-loud sound came from the direction of the 16th green.
“Sounds like somebody might have aced 16,” Haney said.
“(Fred) Couples is over that way. Maybe he did. Or hit it close.”
A few seconds later, someone told Haney that Couples had made a hole-in-one there. But it wasn’t true. In fact, Couples had pitched in for eagle at 15 from several yards right of the green, getting to 8-under and three shots back at the time.
The fourth roar came a couple of minutes later from the direction of the 15th green. That was a simple one to figure out. Not the details, but the notion that Mickelson had done something great again and had done it at 15. The commotion, we soon learned, came because Mickelson, after laying up short of the water, almost holed a wedge shot for his third eagle in a row.
“Nobody can say there weren’t roars today,” Haney said.
And that was just Saturday. I’ve heard them louder and more frequent, but on Sunday, not Saturday. A repeat on Sunday would make for one of the best Masters ever.