Still looking for his first major tournament victory, Luke Donald shot a five-under par 22 to win the Masters Par 3 Contest at Augusta National. This event has long been a beloved tradition held the day before the start of the Masters tournament.
Unfortunately for him, no winner of the Masters Par 3 contest has ever gone on to win that year’s Masters. Tiger Woods stopped participating in this event after skipping the sudden-death playoff in 2003 fearing the dreaded “Masters curse.” Donald isn’t a long hitter, but rather a top-flight putter and that could increase his chances of breaking the jinx.
It was refreshing to see a laid-back atmosphere at the Par 3 contest, as most majors have a very structured feel to them with little access to the players. Fans are allowed to stand along the course unlike the actual Masters event itself, where they must stand behind the tee box during play. The sight of the world’s top golfers laughing, interacting with one another and not stressing about their game is a great way to begin the weekend at The Masters.
Another terrific sight is seeing a small group of children dressed in Augusta National caddy jumpsuits carrying the bags for their famous fathers. And some even step-in to hit for dear old Dad. These images will provide a lasting memory for all involved.
Other notable caddies included Andy Roddick, who carried the bags for 2007 Masters champ Zach Johnson, and even teed off for him on the final hole. Jack Nicklaus’ caddie was his grandson Nick O’Leary, who is a standout tight end that will be attending Florida State University in the fall.
Another memorable scene was the pairing of golf’s royalty, as Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Nicklaus once again competed against one another on a golf course. It’s fitting as Augusta celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Golden Bear’s historic Masters comeback victory in 1986. After becoming almost an afterthought on the tour, the 46-year-old Nicklaus located the fountain of youth on that faithful Sunday afternoon to shoot an improbable 30 on the back nine for the win.
The Walrus, Craig Stadler, recorded the only hole-in-one of the Par 3 contest on his first tee shot of the day. It was the 73rd ace recorded (five in 2002) in the history of the contest, which was first played in 1960.