Augusta, Ga. | Aces were wild during the 43rd annual Par-3 Contest at Augusta National. A record five holes-in-one were recorded April 10, including back-to-back aces by Toshi Izawa of Japan.
Kirk Triplett (No. 9), Stewart Cink (No. 2) and honorary invitee Jerry Pate (No. 7) scored the other 1s. Adding to the spectacle were two 3s made “the hard way.” Pate and U.S. Public Links champion Chez Reavie each holed second tries from the tee after hitting their first balls into the water.
Nick Price won the competition, beating Mark Calcavecchia on the second playoff hole. Both shot 5 under par for nine holes. Price finished tied for 20th in the Masters, keeping intact the Par-3 Contest hex. Since the short-course competition began in 1960, no winner has gone on to win the Masters that week.
“We weren’t trying very hard (in the playoff),” Price joked. “I was pulling for Calc, but he hit two in the water on the last hole.”
Pate finished third at 4-under 23. The Par-3 Contest is open to Masters participants, noncompeting past champions and honorary invitees. Thanks to his U.S. Open (1976) and U.S. Amateur (1974) victories, Pate was an honorary invitee.
In the lead at 4 under, Pate spun his tee shot at the ninth into the water. As he re-teed, he told playing partner Ben Crenshaw, “I’m gonna hole this and win.”
He did the former, but it didn’t hold up for the latter.
Nor was it the most impressive rebound of the day. Izawa opened with three pars, then scored a quadruple-bogey 7 at No. 4 after his first tee shot spun back into DeSoto Springs Pond and it took him three tries to extract himself from the bunker where his reload came to rest.
His next two attempts from the tee, both with a 9-iron, rolled into the jar from 130 and 140 yards, respectively. Izawa said he couldn’t see the shot at No. 5 disappear into the cup, but knew from the roar of the crowd that it had gone in.
He chipped in for birdie at No. 7, then closed with two pars.
Izawa said he was thrilled with his sharpshooting, but lamented that “it was too early to do it” – meaning he would like to have saved some of his luck for the Masters proper, where he missed the cut.
There have been 50 holes-in-one in 43 Par-3 Contests, including four each in 1996, ’97 and 2001. Izawa, who tied for fourth in his Masters debut last year, isn’t the first player to score consecutive holes-in-one in the Par-3 Contest. Claude Harmon aced the fourth and fifth holes in 1968. Harmon, father of Tiger Woods’ coach Butch Harmon, won the Masters in 1948.