AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — As tradition dictates, there is now some very bad news to report about Canadian golfers Mike Weir and Mackenzie Hughes.
Neither will win the Masters.
That is, if you believe in superstition – or at least believe in history. No player has won the Par 3 contest and won the Masters in the same year, a trend both Weir and Hughes will try to reverse when this year’s tournament begins on Thursday.
Weir and Hughes shared the Par 3 title on Wednesday, both finishing 4 under. The game started late due to the weather threat and ended early when the weather approached the area.
“It’s fun. It’s a very special day for me,” Hughes said. “This is my third Masters and my first Par 3 contest. I was really excited to come here and do this. Very lucky that the weather held out for us.”
Depending on how you count, Hughes had either three caddies or zero caddies. He was carrying his own bag, while Cadet No. 1 (his wife) carefully watched Cadets No. 2 and No. 3 (their children).
“My youngest, Cohen, he was 16 months old on Monday, so he wanted to go after every ball on the green, heading for the lakes,” Hughes said. “So the No. 1 priority was definitely keeping them on the grass. Do it.”
It was the first Par 3 event at the Masters – the traditional, family-friendly Wednesday afternoon prequel to the real thing – since 2019. The 2020 and 2021 events did not take place due to the pandemic.
Some of the “clients” of the short course, with holes ranging from 70 to around 140 meters in length, did not exactly behave. Sergio Garcia missed the green at No. 1, possibly because a kid announced aloud during Garcia’s swing that he would be taking a turn next. Kids ran around the greens, others jumped up and down near the tee boxes.
Obviously, no one cared.
“Special family time,” said Justin Rose.
Caddies hit balls in the water, wives made putts for their touring husbands — Lacey Homa had a birdie for husband Max — and about 40 players were technically ineligible to win because someone another played their ball at some point during the contest.
Again, that didn’t bother anyone either.
“I think as you get older you realize that you appreciate even more,” said 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize, who completed a shot back on Wednesday. “Having the Par 3 back this year is a blast. It’s so special. I can’t say how special it is.
There are 11 men who have won both the Masters and the Par-3 contest – Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd, Vijay Singh, Mark O’Meara, Tommy Aaron, Sandy Lyle, Gay Brewer and Art Mur Jr.
Just never the same year.
Weir, however, said he didn’t believe in the Par 3 winning spell.
“You go out and you want to hit good shots and feel good and leave a good taste in your mouth,” Weir said.
There is something missing at the Masters this year. And it turns out that even Augusta National isn’t immune to an increasingly common problem these days.
The Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich — perhaps one of the best $2 desserts in the free world — was unavailable at Augusta National this week.
The official reason: supply chain issues.
All other traditional concession dishes are back at The Masters, with some slight changes to the menu. Chilli Cheese Egg Salad Sandwiches remain priced at $1.50. A few sandwich prices — ham and cheese, and turkey and cheese — were raised by 50 cents to $3 each. And a new $3 egg, meat and cheese breakfast sandwich is also on the menu this year.
The peach ice cream might be missing, but there’s a nod to Georgia’s other official snack, with $1.50 Georgia Pecan Caramel Popcorn.
And the most expensive item on the menu isn’t expensive at all, compared to almost every other major sporting event in the world: a glass of chardonnay will set you back $6, or $1 more than the beer.
“We had some modest price increases,” said Augusta National President Fred Ridley. “I think most, if not everyone, would say that our concessions are of great value. So we’re very comfortable with that.
ONE MORE CLUB
Xander Schauffele returned to the par-3 16th hole during a practice round earlier this week, this time after catching a 7-iron.
If he had done it in the last round last year, the Masters could have gone differently.
He had birdied four straight and was within striking distance of leader and eventual winner Hideki Matsuyama last year when he went 16th. The hole was playing 184 yards for the final round. Schauele chose an 8 iron.
The ball went into the water, he made a triple bogey and his chance for a green jacket was gone.
“I got in there and hit a 7 iron this year,” Schauffele said. “The green was concrete. My ball landed just off the hole and jumped all the way to the back of the green. …I waited a year to hit that shot again.
PENDING ON 13
Here is an oddity. The par-4 11th at Augusta National is now longer than the par-5 13th.
That will probably change, but no one seems to know when.
No. 11 has been stretched to 520 yards, 10 more than No. 13, a hole the Masters has recorded as wanting to change for at least six years now and counting. It became too easy for their liking, the majority of players being able to reach the green in two strokes.
The Masters is still weighing its options, while the sport’s governing bodies – the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient – continue to study potential changes or solutions to what has been called “bomb and gouge”, a style where distance is more valued than precision.
“We’re going to move on our own timeline and make the changes that we think about,” said Augusta National President Fred Ridley. “Most of our tees are very long and we will have that option today and we will continue to have that option in the future.”
The Masters digital platforms will air “selected group spotlight coverage” of 18 holes in Thursday’s opening round, two trios in the morning and two more in the afternoon.
This means those who want to see every move Tiger Woods makes on Thursday will be able to do so.
The 10:34 a.m. group of Woods, Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann is the first trio featured on Thursday’s program, followed by the 10:56 a.m. group of Adam Scott, Scottie Scheffler and Tony Finau.
Afternoon bands get the same coverage, with Dustin Johnson, Billy Horschel and Collin Morikawa departing at 1:30 p.m., and Jordan Spieth, Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele starting at 1:52 p.m.
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