Aces All Around

Masters Guide
Augusta National Masters

Photos courtesy of Augusta National Golf Club

Although golfers racked up holes-in-one on the revamped Par 3 Contest course last year, they still couldn’t conquer a long-standing curse.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Yes, almost everyone knows that the winner of the Par 3 Contest has never won the Masters Tournament in the same year.

However, would a new layout on the nine-hole, par-27 course finally put that jinx to rest? Not a chance.

Augusta National MastersBringing the Heat

On the sun-soaked afternoon, golfers still brought the heat to the Contest that is held the Wednesday before the tournament begins. Players typically have their children, grandchildren or significant others caddie for them, and they often let their caddies – or even a child from the gallery – putt for them on a hole or two. (This move also sidesteps that curse because a player’s score doesn’t count unless he hits every shot.)

Some of the golfers needed no such assistance from their caddies to get the ball in the hole last year, however. Four competitors accounted for five holes-in-one on the course where the first through the fifth holes had been rerouted before last year’s Contest.

One of those was Tom Hoge, who won the Par 3 with a score of 6-under.

“I made a few birdies early and then the hole-in-one on 8, so that was cool to see that go in. Just a fun day out here this afternoon with my wife caddying for me,” said Hoge. “They’ve got these pins set up for us in some nice spots where the balls will funnel back, so it’s fun to see those holes-in-one out here today.”

Wrapping up the Par 3 with back-to-back holes-in-one, Seamus Power of Ireland aced Nos. 8 and 9 with a sand wedge and some spin.

Augusta National Masters“Obviously, to get one was special, but to get the second one was a bit surreal. It was an absolute blast out there,” he said.

He said his shot on the eighth hole landed about 30 feet behind the pin and spun back.

“It was looking like it was going to be close, and it dropped in,” Power said. “And similar on 9. I slightly pulled it, and it kicked to the right and spun back in, so yeah, very lucky obviously.”

Playing Like Champions

Masters champions Scottie Scheffler and Bubba Watson also tallied holes-in-one to bring the total number of aces in the Par 3 to 107 since its inception in 1960.

With a ball that one-hopped into the hole on No. 4, Watson was the only player to ace one of the newly designed holes.

The first through the fifth holes had been rerouted to allow more golf holes to be adjacent to DeSoto Springs Pond. The pond and dam were reshaped and restored as well. In addition, the changes increased viewing options and capacity for the Contest that is popular with patrons and players alike.

Scheffler’s hole-in-one on No. 9 counted on the scorecard just like the other aces, but his required a bit of detective work to confirm.

Augusta National MastersHe and playing partners Tom Kim and Sam Burns hit their tee shots in unison, and all three balls tracked toward the flagstick. After they landed, three balls sat on or near the front edge of the green. However, slow-motion replay by ESPN showed one of the shots disappear into the cup.

“That was pretty fun. We were trying to make one all day. That was just, I guess, the slam dunk at the end. Definitely very fun,” Scheffler said. “The guys were pretty focused watching their shots, and they didn’t quite see it go in. They just heard the noise, and I was like, ‘Yeah, that went in. That was mine.’”

With his hole-in-one, he also joined Mike Weir and Tom Watson as the only defending champions to score an ace in the Par 3.

As for Hoge, he missed the cut in the 87th Masters. But, as the winner of the Par 3 Contest, he’ll always have the crystal pedestal bowl that goes to the victor and bragging rights about a triumph at Augusta National Golf Club.

By Betsy Gilliland