|Ryan Moore wins Masters’ Par 3 tournament|
|Wednesday, April 09, 2014 8:07 PM|
AUGUSTA, Ga. — With friends and family members in tow, Ryan Moore made memories at the Masters on Wednesday.
Moore shot a 6-under 21 to win the Par 3 tournament at Augusta National, calling it a “perfect practice day.”
No one should consider it the perfect prelude to golf’s first major, though.
Since the Par 3 contest began in 1960, no winner has gone on to don the green jacket later in the week. Raymond Floyd (1990) and Chip Beck (1993) won the mid-week tournament and finished second on Sunday. But since no one has swept both events, making the Par 3 more of a curse than a forecast for the Masters.
“I’m not afraid of it,” Moore said. “You never know. Someone has got to break that curse at some point in time, so hopefully it’s me, if I end up winning. Who knows? I might go shoot 8 under or something, make a couple hole-in-ones. We’ll see.”
Moore made a relatively short putt on the ninth hole to get to 6 under. He finished one shot behind the Par 3 record held by Art Wall (1965) and Gay Brewer (1973).
Moore played the round with his 18-month-old son, Tucker, who got more attention as he pounded his plastic driver all around the course.
“It was fun having my boy out there and playing a round, you know, playing with a couple of friends,” Moore added. “That’s what it’s for, to kind of make you relax a little bit and just go and enjoy yourself the afternoon before.”
Kevin Stadler and Fuzzy Zoeller finished tied for second at 4-under 23. Bernhard Langer, Joost Luiten and Victor Dubuisson were another stroke back.
NO CHANGES: The Masters is the only major that doesn’t have a rules official assigned to every group on the golf course.
And it will stay that way.
One of the suggestions that emerged from the Tiger Woods’ ruling last year was that it might have been avoided if a rules official had been on the scene. Woods hit a wedge to the 15th green that hit the flagstick and caromed into the water. He said he purposely took his penalty drop a few yards back to avoid hitting the pin again.
That was a violation — the rule requires the drop to be as near as possible to the previous spot — and it led to a 2-shot penalty. Woods was assessed the penalty shots after he signed his card, but he was not disqualified under Rule 33-7 because the rules committee felt it erred in not talking to him before Woods signed the card.
Augusta National, like the other majors, brings in rules officials from tours and golf organizations around the world.
“We have approximately 60 officials on the course, significantly more than any other tournament,” Masters chairman Billy Payne said. “We think we do it pretty good with the familiarity they acquire for the specific holes — some with as many as six officials on it. So we think the way do it is pretty good, which is not to say that we would never consider a change. But we kind of like the way we do it now.”
ALL FOR WOMEN: The Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced last week that its 2,400 members would vote in September whether to accept females for the first time, a proposal that secretary Peter Dawson said appears to have ample support.
That includes Augusta National chairman Payne.
“I’m proud to be a member of the R&A and I bet you can guess how I’m going to vote,” Payne said Wednesday.
The home of the Masters had no women as members for 70 years until a surprise announcement in August 2012 that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore had been invited to join.
“We readily and joyously welcomed our lady members when that happened a couple years ago and it remains a very good decision on our part,” Payne said. “We are so delighted — and I know I speak for everyone — that they are members.”
He declined to say what kind of message it would send to the world of golf if the R&A takes on women as members.
“I would respect their process, their requirement to conduct a vote and so the process will culminate in a decision,” Payne added. “And as I’ve said, I know where one vote is going to be cast.”
DIVOTS: Darren Clarke becomes the 25th player to make 500 starts on the European Tour when he tees off today in the Masters. European Tour chief George O’Grady commemorated the milestone by presenting Clarke an engraved silver ice bucket. … Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke have this going for them: The four majors that Woods has missed because of injury were won by Irishmen — Padraig Harrington (2008 British Open, 2008 PGA Championship), McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open) and Clarke (2011 British Open). … There were three hole-in-ones in the Par 3 event. University of Florida golf coach Buddy Alexander, who was paired with former Gators Matt Every and Billy Horschel, aced No. 2. So did Mark O’Meara. Matt Jones aced the third hole. Those three shots bring the total hole-in-ones to 80 since the event’s inception in 1960.
Payne leaves no doubt who calls shots at Augusta: Eighty years after it was founded, dozens of questions remain about the murky inner workings of the Augusta National Golf Club.
There are none about who calls the shots.
Payne proved that again Wednesday, tackling a wide range of issues in his annual “State of the Masters” news conference. Since taking over from Hootie Johnson in 2006, Payne, the former Atlanta Olympic Committee CEO, has found himself facing such hot-button issues such as adding women to the Augusta’s membership and Woods’ suitability as a role model.
This time around, the mood was decidedly lighter. Yet judging by the frequent smiles and nods of assent from the dozen green jackets lining the back of the room, Payne’s pronouncements on the less-weighty issues of his own golf handicap and whether to replace the famed Eisenhower Tree on the 17th fairway — lost after being damaged in an ice storm — aren’t likely to face much headwind.
A reporter asked Payne whether he took the job with a “to-do” list and if so, how many items on it had been resolved.
“I had no list because I didn’t know anything about the job,” he replied. “When I became a member of Augusta National, I had dreams of becoming a scratch golfer.”
Once the laughter stopped, Payne turned to Fred Ridley, chairman of the club’s competition committee, and asked, “Have I made it there yet, Fred?”
“Working on it,” Ridley replied.
“However,” Payne added quickly, “I compete quite well here because I’m also chairman of the Handicap Committee.”
Handicaps are hardly the only issue where Payne makes use of his bully pulpit. After several years of vigorously — and very publicly — defending the club’s longstanding policy of barring women, he presided over the quiet addition of Rice and Moore to the membership rolls in August 2012.
Payne also revealed the club no longer maintained a waiting list for Masters passes — among the toughest tickets in sports to obtain — for “some kind of ego purposes,” deciding instead to put any tickets returned to the club into an annual lottery.
The accomplishment Payne touted most was the role Augusta National and the Masters Foundation played in creating and hosting last Sunday’s inaugural Drive, Chip & Putt Championship for youngsters ages 7-15.
“I was trying to make comparisons,” Payne began, “think about how I had been impacted like that before, and I can only go back to, I used to ask my mother, ‘How will I know when I meet my wife?’
“And she would always say, ‘Well, you’ll know. You’ll know.’
“And Saturday night at the banquet preceding the Sunday competition, I knew.”
Payne added he was already looking forward to next year’s event, saying he’d heard more than 15,000 kids had already signed up. But Payne also took advantage of the opportunity to poke a little fun at himself.
Playing off his reputation as a promoter — Payne admitted using fuzzy math to convince the International Olympic the average summer temperature in usually steamy Atlanta would be 75 degrees during the games — he added, “You’ve got to ask the U.S. Golf Association to get actual (numbers).
“I am known to exaggerate a little bit.”