The par-5 16th at TPC Sawgrass routinely plays as one of the easiest at THE PLAYERS Championship. But no one had ever managed an albatross on the 523-yard hole – until Sunday. Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello set the crowd alight with a phenomenal 8-iron that traveled 181 yards to paydirt, kicking off a downslope short of the putting surface and finding its way to the bottom of the cup. It was just the third albatross in PLAYERS history behind Hunter Mahan’s sensational effort on the par-5 11th in round two of 2007 and Peter Lonard’s sublime shot on the par-5 second in the third round of the same year. “Obviously, it was pretty spectacular,” Cabrera Bello said. “I saw it kick off the bank of the bunker and I was a bit worried at the beginning because I kind of felt that it shot a little too fast, and I’m like, oh, is that going to go in the water now. “Then I saw it rolling towards the hole. … I saw it bump with the flag and I didn’t know what happened; had it gone in or had it just stayed just like a foot away or something like that. “Then I saw the crowd and just went crazy and enjoyed it.” The Spaniard threw his club in the air in jubilation and it comically landed in the water that lines the right side of the hole. Thankfully he could reach in and retrieve it after the first albatross of his career. The celebration continued as Cabrera Bello ran along the gallery ropes and high-fived the fans cheering his rare accomplishment. Impressively Cabrera Bello backed it up with a wonderful birdie on the par-3 17th island green, then saved a miraculous par on the final hole despite hitting his tee shot in the water. His 2-2-4 finish equaled the record for least shots played over the final three holes at THE PLAYERS and left him tied fourth at 6 under after a 70 on Sunday. It was Cabrera Bello’s highest finish of the season and moved him from 112th to 80th in the FedExCup.
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