The Masters par-3 competition witnessed a record number of hole-in-ones, a new course record and some outstanding celebrations. Here’s a look at the best moments.
As usual Masters week kicked off with the par-3 competition on Wednesday afternoon. This year’s event proved to be a cracker.
Jimmy Walker’s 19
We have to start with Jimmy Walker’s course record of 19. The record of 20 had stood for 43 years and had been jointly held by Gay Brewer, who posted that score in 1973, and Art Wall Jr who managed just 20 strokes in 1965.
Walker’s incredible round of eight-under par contained a hole-in-one at the second hole, six further birdies and just two pars. He clearly doesn’t fear the famous jinx that nobody who has won the par-3 competition has gone on to win the event proper. Walker went for the record and got it.
Can you imagine making six twos and a one in the space of nine holes? Ian Woosnam put it in perspective when talking to Kirsty Gallacher en-route to the ninth tee. “I just look at the leaderboard and see scores like six-under and think ‘what?’” Well, Walker got to two better than that. He’ll be hoping to continue that form into the tournament proper.
“I think we’ll do it.” he said confidently. “I’ve been playing well, I came here to win.”
There were a record nine holes-in-one in yesterday’s competition, beating the previous best of five.
The players managing holes-in-one yesterday were: Jimmy Walker, Andy Sullivan, David Lingmerth, Webb Simpson, Smylie Kaufmann, Zach Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Gary Player.
Simpson’s ace provoked an amusing response from Bubba Watson. The two had a wager that the other would pay out if either of them managed a hole-in-one. They’d cruised round without significant event until the final hole when Simpson fired one deep into the green and watched as it slowly rolled back into the cup. He celebrated accordingly before turning round to see a distinctly unimpressed Watson standing emotionless. Simpson tried to hug him but got little love in return: Good poker-face from Bubba. We’re sure he was pleased for his pal really.
Gary Player got the obligatory ace for the old-timers. Playing with Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, he scored his on the 4th. He played it past, and to the right, of the pin and the group were halfway up the hole by the time it had rolled back into the cup.
The three greats clearly enjoyed their game and still have the competitive edge. Watson gave Nicklaus a ribbing for a couple of poor early shots. “Try getting more of the small ball and less of the big one,” he was heard to say to the Golden Bear. Then Player, flying after his hole-in-one, appeared keen to cheer on Watson’s ball as he came close to an ace of his own… Maybe just a bit of him was hoping it would actually go in. And, as always, Player was keen to show how physically fit he still is at the age of 80, as the picture above show – take that Jack!
Probably the most incredible moment of the day came from the group of Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler (wearing a pair of shoes that looked like they’d been dipped in Uranium) on the 7th hole. Justin Thomas popped one in from the tee, sparking great celebrations. But it looked like being costly for Fowler and Spieth as they too had a wager paying out on aces. Fowler clearly decided he didn’t fancy putting his hand in his pocket as he stood up and followed Thomas in for a hole-in-one of his own. The boys went berserk (Jordan slightly less so) and went up to take a photo of the two balls in the cup.
Rickie Fowler swing sequence:
Celebrate good times
There were some great celebrations from players, their family and friends.
When Nick Faldo holed an outrageous putt on the 7th, sending it up the green and then urging it back down, reeling it in as if with a fishing rod, he set off running on a victory lap of the green attempting to high five (although missing around 50% of the hands he aimed at) in the style of Hale Irwin in the 1990 US Open. Faldo got it round in a highly respectable 25.
Celebration, and top moment of the day though went to Soren Kjeldsen’s son who was given a putt, as so many of the youngsters there are at some point. Unlike most though, Soren’s son made it and then proceeded to do a very impressive “Happy Gilmore-style” bull dance around the green in celebration. Brilliant stuff!