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Gary Player aces 7th hole in Masters’ Par 3 Contest

Gary Player (right) and the gallery react Wednesday to his hole-in-one at the seventh hole during the Par 3 Contest at Augusta National Golf Club.
Gary Player (right) and the gallery react Wednesday to his hole-in-one at the seventh hole during the Par 3 Contest at Augusta National Golf Club. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

A hole-in-one isn’t necessarily a rarity in a par-3 tournament. But some are cooler than others.

That was certainly the case Wednesday at the Masters’ Par 3 Contest, when Gary Player aced the 115-yard seventh hole. It was the fourth time Player has had an ace in the Par 3 Contest and, at 80, he became the oldest player in tournament history to do so.

Player was playing with two other golf legends, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. Player, a three-time Masters champion, was hitting last on the hole. His tee shot hit to the right and beyond the hole, far enough away that the threesome and their caddies had already started walking up the fairway as the ball continued to roll.

Player’s ball kept rolling backward and toward the cup, finally settling in the hole and causing a huge roar from the thousands of patrons ringing the hole. Clad in all black, Player reacted with the fist pumps and leg kick he made famous over his career.

Watson, playing in the threesome in place of the injured Arnold Palmer, made his birdie putt. Nicklaus (who had an ace on the fourth hole in the 2015 par 3 tournament) saw his birdie putt lip out.

Player was one of a record nine players with aces Wednesday. Two others did it on No. 7: Zach Johnson, playing in the next group, and David Lingmerth. Ricky Fowler and Justin Thomas, playing in the same group, had holes in one on No. 4. Charlotte-resident Webb Simpson had one on No. 9. And tournament winner Jimmy Walker aced No. 2 on his way to a record 8-under par 19. Walker is aware, of course, that no player who has won the Par 3 Contest has gone on to win the Masters.

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