Augusta - Jimmy Walker risked the Masters
curse by winning the Par-3 Contest in record fashion on Wednesday at Augusta
National, where a record-shattering nine aces were fired on the eve of the 80th
On a day when 80-year-old Gary Player fired
his fourth career ace in the Par-3 event to set two records and Augusta
National fans booed defending Masters champion Jordan Spieth after he couldn't
match back-to-back holes-in-one, Walker stole the show.
The 37-year-old American fired an
eight-under par 19 on the 1,060-yard layout, smashing a record that had stood
for half a century and risking the jinx of no Par-3 winner having ever captured
that year's Masters title.
"I think we'll do it," Walker
said of ending the hoodoo. "I've been playing really well. I've been
feeling good and I feel good coming into this week."
Walker fired six birdies and added a
hole-in-one to break the old nine-hole mark of 20 set by Art Wall in 1965 and
matched by Gay Brewer in 1973.
"It was sweet," Walker said.
"About aced the first and did ace the second and kept it close."
He beat runners-up Craig Stadler and Keegan
Bradley by three strokes.
South African legend Player became the
oldest golfer in Par-3 history to hit an ace, breaking the age mark of 75 set
last year by playing partner Jack Nicklaus.
"I played with Jack last year and he did
it so this year he said it's my turn," Player said.
Player's fourth Par-3 hole-in-one, and the
31st of his career, rolled 35 feet down a slope into the cup to established a
new career mark for the contest, eclipsing the one he shared with Ben Crenshaw.
"I tried to keep it to the right and
it was just the right speed," Player said. "But you have to be a
In a record 52 Masters starts, Player never
made a hole-in-one.
Spieth was jeered in jest after playing
partners Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas aced the fourth hole on consecutive
tee shots and he was unable to duplicate the feat.
"It might been the hardest shot I ever
had to hit trying to follow them," Spieth said. "It was fun being a
spectator in the group."
Teased Fowler: "After two
hole-in-ones, you got to man up and hit the shot. He just couldn't do it."
Each used a wedge to make their ace.
"It's a bucket list kind of
thing," Thomas said. "It was so cool."
"Something that we'll remember
forever, that's for sure," Fowler said.
The crushed former record total of Par-3
Contest aces was five in 2002 and 2015, with Player calculating the odds of
nine aces in one day at "20 million to one."
But the longshot came true with
holes-in-one by Walker at the second, Fowler and Thomas at four, England's Andy
Sullivan at the fifth, Player and Swede David Lingmerth and reigning British
Open champion Zach Johnson at seven, Masters debutante Smylie Kaufman at eight
and Webb Simpson at nine.
That boosted the total number of aces in
the Par-3 event to 94 since its 1960 inception.