Moore wins Par-3 title to challenge Masters curse
US golfer Ryan Moore walks his son Tucker as he competes in the Par-3 Contest at the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 9, 2014 - by Emmanuel Dunand
The 31-year-old American fired a six-under par 21 on the eve of the 78th Masters for a two-stroke triumph in the casual tournament, knowing full well that no Par-3 winner has ever gone on to win that year's green jacket.
"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.
"Who knows? I might go shoot 8-under or something, make a couple hole-in-ones. We'll see."
The curse has some teeth to it. The only players to win the Masters ever after winning the Par-3 Contest were Fiji's Vijay Singh, whose 2000 green jacket came six years after a Par-3 title, and Ben Crenshaw, the 1984 Masters winner who won the 1987 Par-3 title and captured an emotional Masters victory in 1995.
But Moore remains undaunted about any sort of Masters hoodoo over his victory.
"If I'm entering something, I'm trying to win it no matter what," Moore said. "I don't believe in any of that other stuff about the curse or whatever. I mean, the reality is the odds of winning both are not very high."
Moore, who won his third PGA title last year at Kuala Lumpur in a playoff over countryman Gary Woodland, is set for his sixth Masters start.
Moore's best showing was a share of 13th as an amateur in 2005. He shared 14th in 2010 and 38th last year. His low round at Augusta National was a four-under 68 in the final round in 2010 and last year. He has never cracked 70 in the opening round.
Enjoying the relaxed Par-3 atmosphere was more important than wedging in a final practice round for Moore, who had his 17-month-old son Tucker at his side.
"It was fun having my boy out there and playing with a couple friends. That's what it's for, to kind of make you relax a little bit," Moore said.
"I got in the amount of golf I wanted to get in before this, so for me this was a perfect practice day."
Harris English, one of a record 24 first-time Masters starters in this year's field of 97, said the Par-3 actually made him nervous rather than relaxed.
"I was definitely a little nervous out there because people are standing so close on the green," he said. "I don't want to hit people, but I guess it will get the nerves out a little bit."
English aced the par-3 12th hole, in the heart of famed Amen Corner, with a pitching wedge in a weekend practice round.
"It was unbelievable," English said. "Just hit a full pitching wedge and landed a little short and rolled in. Got some good vibes here for sure."