The eve of the Masters can only mean one thing: the annual Par-3 Contest on Augusta National’s nine-hole Par-3 course, which starts at mid-day today (5pm GMT).
But is the Par-3 Contest – involving Masters players, non-competing past champions and honorary invitees – a poison chalice? The event was first played in 1960, and the case remains that the golfer who wins the Par-3 has never gone on to win the main event in the same year.
In fact, for many years it seemed winners of the Par-3 were cursed not to win the Masters ever again, let alone in that year. Sam Snead won the inaugural Par-3, and failed to win another Masters afterwards; Arnold Palmer won it in 1967 and never won another Green Jacket; then Tom Watson won the Par-3 in 1982. He was the defending Masters champion that year (having won the Masters in 1977 and 1981), and despite multiple majors elsewhere after 1982, he would never again win at Augusta.
The original curse of the Par-3 was eventually broken by Ben Crenshaw. He first won the Masters in 1984, won the Par-3 in 1987, and then claimed is second Masters title in 1995. What a relief. Vijay Singh would follow suit, winning the Par-3 in 1994, before slipping his arms into the Green jacket in 2000.
Padraig Harrington holds the record for the most Par-3 victories: three, in 2003, 2004 and then in the storm-shortened 2012 event. “I don’t believe in a curse,” claims Harrington. “I try to win every time I play. I like winning.”
Augusta’s Par-3 course has a par of 27 and runs to 1,060 yards. The shortest hole is the 70-yard second, while the longest is the 140-yard sixth. There have been 75 holes-in-one over the event’s 53-year history, and the course record is 20, seven under par, shared by Art Wall Jnr (1965) and Gay Brewer (1973).
Notable groups this afternoon include (all tee times local):
12:07 Phil Mickelson – Jim Furyk – Bubba Watson
1:10 Tianlang Guan – Nick Faldo – Angel Cabrera
3:02 Arnold Palmer – Jack Nicklaus – Gary Player
3:23 Graeme McDowell – Rory McIlroy – Alan Dunbar
Robin Barwick travelled to the 2013 Masters with Mercedes-Benz, International Partner of the Masters Tournament