Curse of Par 3 falls to Moore
Ryan Moore won the Masters Par 3 Contest on Wednesday, pretty much eliminating him from contention in the Masters, which will begin Thursday.
That’s because no Par 3 winner has ever turned around and won the big tournament.
Moore shot a 6-under 21 on Augusta National’s par-3 course, two strokes better than Kevin Stadler and Fuzzy Zoeller. The event included three holes-in-one – Mark O’Meara and Buddy Alexander on No. 2 and Matt Jones on No. 3.
“Someone has got to break the curse at some point,” said Moore. “I’m not afraid of it. Who knows? I might go shoot 8 under or something, make a couple holes-in-one. We’ll see.”
This is Moore’s sixth Masters. In 2005 he tied for 13th, his best finish.
Notes• Masters Chairman Billy Payne said the first Drive, Chip & Putt Championship finals for youth golfers held Sunday at Augusta National were a huge success. The event was televised by Golf Channel.
“Hundreds of thousands of other kids saw how much fun they had, sat by their televisions, repeatedly telling their moms and dads they could hit that chip even better, visualized themselves right here at Augusta next year,” said Payne. “In doing so, they all began the process of falling in love with the game of golf.”
Payne said the competition will expand to more than 250 qualifying venues in all 50 states next year. Registration information: www.DriveChipandPutt.com.• Wells Fargo Championship winner Derek Ernst is among the 24 first-time players at the Masters. His victory at Quail Hollow Club remains his only top-10 finish in one-plus seasons on the PGA Tour. He’s missed nine cuts this season, with his top finish being 30th at the Hyundai Tournament.
• The removal of Eisenhower Tree on the 17th fairway was the most severe casualty of a recent ice storm in Augusta. Dozens of other trees around Augusta National were also damaged, however. Payne said it will take time for them to recover or be replaced.
“There are some areas that, as soon as this summer, have some significant, immediate planning,” Payne said. “Others will take longer because we’re going to wait and see or we can’t find specimens large enough to really make a difference. But we still think it’s beautiful.”• Honorary starters are, again, former champions Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, who will hit the opening tee shots at 7:40 a.m. Thursday. Palmer, 84, said he will continue to do the honors for as long as he’s asked.
“(I will) if I have to crawl,” Palmer said.
Sunny with highs in the mid-70s Thursday. The weather pattern is predicted to hold through the weekend, with temperatures increasing to the mid-80s.