Wednesday, April 6, 2011
AUGUSTA---Par 3 Contest day was spectacular, weather-wise. Pretty much everyone was all smiles as they teed up.
Once again the trio of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player teed up the Par 3 Contest together. 13 green jackets among golf royalty. It doesn't matter if they hit it close or sail them into the patrons, it's great to be the kings of golf.
The Par 3 is also all about the players' kids. Some are barely bigger than the clubs, while others show signs of being future golfers.
This is truly an afternoon of fun for the players and their families. Heck, they're the ones usually carrying the clubs today. Just being out there makes the kids' day, seeing as Dad will be working for the next four days.
While the patrons enjoy the extras, they also enjoy the holes in one. Today there was just one, from Craig Stadler, very early in the day on the very first hole.
As far as the winner goes, that would be Luke Donald at -5...so I guess we can count him out for the Tournament, seeing as no one has ever won both in the same year.
Both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were out bright and early today, just as the gates opened. Mickelson was among the first golfers on the course. Remember, he hadn't practiced before today. But with his track record, you still have to like his chances. This is his 19th Masters Tournament.
Tiger wasn't too far behind him. He played the back 9 first. Woods, who's been in Augusta for nearly a week now, also wanted to see the course in more Tournament shape. With yesterday's winds, a lot of guys figured practice then was pointless, since conditions at the Tournament would be completely different. Tiger played with longtime friends Mark O'Mera and Arjun Atwall. Atwall is a rookie here this year.
Not all the fun was on the Par 3 course. When players get to 16, the fans start yelling for them to try to skip the ball over the pond and onto the green. While most attempted it from the water's edge, Bubba Watson was doing the near impossible: skipping it from the tee. Not easy. Then the Tiger Woods trio all hit at the same time. Only O'Mera's ball found land. Tiger's was actually the first to sink into the pond.