AUGUSTA, GA – The annual Par-3 contest gets under way at 11 a.m. CDT Wednesday, the Masters’ answer to the Pro-Am at regular PGA Tour stops.
Coverage begins at 2 p.m. on ESPN and Masters.com.
Two notable entries in this year’s par-3 contest are Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy – or rather, McIlroy’s caddie.
Woods is playing in the Par-3 for the first time since 2004. His children, 7-year old daughter Sam and 6-year old son Charlie, will accompany him.
McIlroy’s caddy will be none other than musician Niall Horan of the group One Direction (no, we didn’t know who he was either, so don’t feel bad).
Bubba Watson’s regular caddy, Ted Scott of Lafayette, will be replaced by Watson’s son 3-year old son Caleb, complete with a small white Masters caddy jumper.
“He's been wearing it around the house excited, he said, ‘I'm caddying for daddy! I'm caddying for daddy!’ ” Watson said. “He doesn't know what that means, but it will be a blast.”
Four-time Masters winner Arnold Palmer bowed out of this year’s Par-3 contest because of a recent shoulder injury, though he said he will make his ceremonial tee shot to start the Masters on Thursday. Palmer will be replaced in his usual Par-3 threesome with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player by two-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw, who begins his 44th and final Masters on Thursday.
All players entered in this year’s field are eligible to participate, along with any former winner of any major championship or the U.S. and British Amateurs. Last year, former LSU and Florida golf coach Buddy Alexander, the 1986 U.S. Amateur champion, played in the event with former Gator and 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans champ Billy Horschel, recording an ace on the 70-yard par-3 second hole.
The Par-3 contest has been played every year since 1960, and every year the legend of the "Par-3 jinx" grows. No player has ever won the Par-3 tournament and the Masters in the same year, prompting many superstitious players over the years to play in the Par-3 but not turn in an official score.
Former LSU player David Toms won the Par-3 contest in 2001 and shared the title in 2003 with Padraig Harrington.