US Masters competitors get a chance to relax and show off their short-game skills later today when they compete in the traditional Par-3 contest before they tackle the lengthened Augusta National course for real on Thursday.
A pessimistic weather forecast threatens to interfere with the 9-hole event played on the world’s finest pitch and putt course, set around a lake with a natural amphitheatre, hosting 5,000 spectators picnicking in the tall pine trees.
Some players would sooner not play as the risk of winning carries a stigma that no victor has ever gone on to win the green jacket in the same year. Sam Snead, Jay Haas and Sandy Lyle have all won it twice, the Scotsman in successive years (1997-98)
But it’s also a chance for family and friends to act as honorary caddies for the day – basketball giant David Robinson (Corey Pavin) and snooker ace Dennis Taylor (Ian Woosnam) have both been previous bagmen – with whooping and hollering echoing through the pines.
David Toms won the 2001 event with a score of 5-under 22 on the 1,060-yard layout. He tied for 31st in last year's Masters, but then went on to win the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.
The Par-3 course, built in 1958, was designed by architect George Cobb and Masters co-founder Clifford Roberts. Over the years, it has evolved into a fun way for Masters competitors to unwind and relax before the tournament begins, though many prefer to give it a miss to practice in relative peace.
Art Wall Jr., the 1959 Masters winner well known for his numerous holes-in-one, died last year. He shared the Par-3 record of 20 with Gay Brewer, the 1967 Masters winner.
Tiger Woods will be guaranteed to fire some mishits later today!