5 Things: Potter Jr. wins Par-3 Contest title

Nick Watney celebrates with Jason Day and Webb Simpson after getting a hole in one on the ninth hole during the Par-3 Contest at Augusta National.

Nick Watney celebrates with Jason Day and Webb Simpson after getting a hole in one on the ninth hole during the Par-3 Contest at Augusta National.

What a day it was at Augusta National for the annual Par-3 Contest.

Nearly 100 players – some entered in this year’s Masters field, others former golfing legends – teed it up at Augusta’s par-3 course Wednesday, many of them using family and friends as caddies.

Rory McIlroy had girlfriend and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki caddie for him, Bubba Watson’s wife Angie and son Caleb were alongside him, and Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar and Bo Van Pelt were among the many players who had their kids on the bag.

(You can see how it all happened here with our Par 3 Tracker)

Here are 5 Things you need to know from the fun-filled event:

• • •

1. AND THE WINNER IS . . . Ted Potter Jr.

Potter and Matt Kuchar traded birdies on the first playoff hole after tying at 4 under through nine holes, as did Phil Mickelson, who was eliminated with a par.

Kuchar missed a 10-footer for birdie on the second hole, while Potter drained his birdie putt to win the title.

Nick Watney’s ace at the ninth hole propelled him into the five-way tie for the lead heading into the playoff, but failed to show up for the extra holes. Ernie Els also tied at 4 under and did not reappear.

It was Potter’s first Par-3 title, as he becomes the eighth straight first-time winner of the event (Jonathan Byrd shared the title with three-time winner Padraig Harrington last year).

It was also the 19th playoff in event history and first since 2004.

• • •

2. VERY SUPERSTITIOUS: Bo Van Pelt had his first Par-3 Contest title in sight.

He was 5 under heading into No. 9 before sticking his final tee shot to about 8 feet. But instead of attempting the birdie for a chance to move to 6 under – that score would’ve won the competition – Van Pelt let his sons have a go with the putter. He would bogey the hole to wrap up an unofficial 4-under 23.

No Par-3 winner has gone on to win the Masters that same week, and it’s that jinx that could explain why Van Pelt threw in the towel.

• • •

3. LEGENDARY TRIO: As expected, one of the best scenes from the day involved Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player making their way around the par-3 course together.

Sure there was the water-ball at No. 9 from Arnie, the only one of the three to win this event (1967), and the three-putts from Jack, but that was more than made up for by the jokes, fan interaction and overall aura that comes along with three of golf’s greatest playing together the day before the Masters.

And if scores mattered, you didn’t know it, although it was Player getting the better of Jack and Arnie, shooting 1-over 28.

• • •

4. WOZILROY: The most popular caddie of the day – Caroline Wozniacki, tennis star and girlfriend of Rory McIlroy.

Wozniacki was on the bag for Rory’s unofficial 5-over 32, a score that was capped by Wozniacki playing the final hole. Her tee shot was chunked into the water at No. 9 and she ended up with double bogey on the hole.

Even with the poor performance with the club in her hands, Wozniacki arguably signed just as many autographs as McIlroy on Wednesday, maybe even more.

• • •

5. ACES WILD: Entering the day, there were 75 hole-in-ones made in Par-3 Contest history.

Two more were added on Wednesday, as Nick Watney aced the 135-yard ninth hole and Ben Crenshaw aced the 115-yard seventh hole.

Both shots, as you can imagine, sent the huge galleries into a frenzy. Watney even got in on the celebration, chest bumping Jason Day, high-fiving Webb Simpson and pretending to jump in the lake. Crenshaw’s celebration was a little more tame, as he took off his hat and waved it in the air, laughing in surprise.

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