OK, what happened to the famed “albatross” ball of Louis Oosthuizen that he tossed into the gallery surrounding the second hole at the Masters on Sunday? Well, as you have probably seen or read, it was caught by Wayne Mitchell, 59, of New Tripoli, PA which is outside Allentown. Vice-President of Air Products, Mitchell and his wife were tournament guests of an executive of Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan. Along the rope line, they had been seated at the par-five second hole since 10:00 a.m., patiently waiting over four hours for the leaders to come through.
After he caught the ball and placed it into his pocket, Mitchell was later escorted by security and green-jacketed members to Butler Cabin where he met Billy Payne, Augusta National’s Chairman. As reported by several news outlets, including the Augusta Chronicle and The Morning Call, Mitchell’s local newspaper in Bethlehem, PA, Mitchell gave the ball to the club for its archives located in the Trophy Room which includes the ball Gene Sarazen holed out with for his iconic double eagle in 1935.
As quoted in The Morning Call earlier this week, Mitchell said: “I’m not a souvenir-grabber. For me, the ball clearly represented a special moment in history. Now, it’s in the hands of the club, where it belongs.” Mitchell and the club declined to discuss details on the actual transaction.
However, I’ve learned from a reliable source that in exchange for the ball Mitchell was offered two Lifetime Badges to the Masters. Before happily accepting, Mitchell also asked Payne for one other request: the opportunity to play Augusta National. Payne said that could be arranged.
That’s what I call a great catch: Lifetime Badges to the Masters topped off by a memorable round at Augusta National. So next year don’t be surprised to see patrons with catcher’s mitts.
Photo of Mitchell by Air Products