Watney records third albatross ever at a US Open
American Nick Watney made a faltering start to Thursday’s first round at the US Open but transformed his fortunes in stunning fashion by recording a rare albatross two at the par-five 17th.
A four-times winner on the PGA Tour, Watney holed out from the fairway with a five-iron from 190 yards to record the double-eagle before going on to complete a one-under-par 69 on a tricky day for scoring.
The 31-year-old Californian had a huge grin on his face after also mixing in two birdies and four bogeys on the fast-running Lake Course at Olympic Club to finish in a tie for second place.
“Obviously the shot on 17 was something I’ll always remember, and I’m pleased with the round,” Watney told reporters after posting only the third ever albatross at the US Open.
“It’s the US Open, so under par is really good.
“I got off to not the best of starts, but I was playing well,” added the American, who bogeyed three of his first five holes after teeing off at the par-four ninth.
“I gave a few shots away with the putter and I was three over without doing too much bad stuff.”
He then struck his five-iron from the heart of the 17th fairway and his ball bounced three times on the front portion of the green before rolling into the cup.
“I couldn’t see it. It was just the crowd roar,” Watney said of his first albatross achieved in tournament play. “It was kind of disbelief and joy, and it was really exciting.”
His albatross was the second this year in the majors, South African Louis Oosthuizen having recorded a double-eagle two at the par-five second during the final round of the Masters, where he went on to lose a playoff to American Bubba Watson.
Taiwan’s Chen Tze-Chung, popularly known as T.C. Chen, scored the US Open’s first albatross in the opening round of the 1985 tournament at Oakland Hills Country Club.
Chen holed out with three-wood from 256 yards at the par-five second, only to post a quadruple-bogey eight on Sunday to blow his lead and, eventually, the championship.
American Shaun Micheel followed suit in the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach, holing out from 239 yards with a three-iron at the par-five sixth hole in the final round.