Two things you must know if you are going to watch the Par 3 Tournament at Augusta get there early and take plenty of sun cream. I did neither of these things are suffered the consequences, however with a little nouse there is no doubt that it is a massive highlight of the week.
As you can see, the course, not often seen by the public, is absolutely stunning, as befits a track sitting alongside the National. The views, the azaleas, the shimmering agua and the purity of the greens are all just as majestic as its big brother. When you chuck in the ingredients of huge galleries, the player’s friends and families and a healthy dose of humour then you’ve got yourself a tasty pie.
The priceless trio of Jack Nicklaus, Arnie Palmer and Gary Player attracted the biggest following of the day, although the beauty of the course is that from most vantage points you can see a whole lot of action.
The format is as you would expect, although there are one or two additions. Firstly, if there is a competition for nearest the pin of every hole. As you would expect this is often taken by an ace (love being in USA) there were four today but if not then the old boys who run this bash have to get on their hands and knees and measure it out.
Secondly, there is plenty of room for deviation. This runs from the highly popular formula of allowing very young offspring to putt out for you or even take a shot to the more fun sight of getting caddies of the older variety to play the entire 9th hole, which is a solid 90 yards all over the drink.
Another factor that makes this so popular with the galleries is that not only are you allowed cameras but also it’s the only time you can request autographs. Cue much hoping and hollering.
As for the action some strange pairings stepped up, not least Padraig Harrington and Paul Azinger would love to know what Senor Faldo thinks of those two getting nice and chummy. A few blasts from the past also stepped up, not least Ian Baker-Finch who shot 2-under-par. Also prepare for Wayne Grady to mention just once or twice on the BBC that he aced 9th. Others to get a hole-in-one were Charles Coody, Azinger, Fred Couples and Steve Flesch.
By the way Tiger, who doesn’t play in the Par 3 event anymore, explained rather mysteriously yesterday that he feels the tournament “has lost its fun” – make of that what you will.
Finally Rory Sabbatini made an excellent five birdies and no bogeys to win and therefore rule himself out of claiming the main event. Lucky that Neil has just put a sack full of dollars on him.