Nick Price won’t win the US Masters. He effectively stymied his chances by claiming the traditional curtain-raiser Par-3 title.
One of the sternest critics of the changes to the newly lengthened Augusta National course, which hosts the green-jacket tournament later today, the Zimbabwean won the nine-hole event which history dictates is never a good omen for the major goal to follow. He had a five under par total of 22.
In 42 years of its existence as a fun preview, the short-game specialist of the week has never gone on to win the glittering prize.
As crowds massed round the spectacular par-3 course set around a lake in tall pines behind the clubhouse, they were entertained by players chipping and putting to tiny greens, occasionally fetching young spectators from the gallery to complete the hole.
And that’s a sure way to guarantee they won’t win and have the Par-3 winner’s stigma attached.
Tiger Woods and Mark O’Meara made due deference to Arnold Palmer by allowing him to receive the acclaim on every green in what is likely to be his last Masters appearance as a fully fledged competitor. He has won the green jacket four times.
Toshi Izawa of Japan, who partners Woods on the big course, along with US Amateur champion Bubba Dickerson at around 4pm (BST) today, created history with two holes in one, while Scott Verplank and Augusta-born Charles Howell III joined in the fun by using Canadian left-hander Mike Weir’s wedge to skull shots into the lake.
It was that kind of afternoon, but Price won’t be too disappointed, at least he holds a share with Greg Norman (1996) of the old Augusta course record of 63, achieved in 1986.