For years, the Par 3 Competition has been a staple of the festivities on The Masters weekend with many past players coming to play a round. This year, however, the Par 3 Contest will be limited further than it has ever been in the past.
In the past, any major championship winner was allowed to come to the Masters as an honorary invitee, which gave them the privilege to participate in the Par 3 Contest and even play a practice round with players before the Actual Tournament began. According to an email sent out by Augusta National, however, this year only participants in the actual tournament along with past Masters Champions can compete.
“We had our time, and now it’s their time.”
– Curtis Strange
The reason for shortening the field from the 89 players who participated last season, according to Augusta, is increased popularity and participation. All is not lost for honorary invitees, however, as they will still have some privileges on the course that they’ve had in the past, including special access to the tournament and grounds itself.
Players who are affected have mixed opinions about this rule change. Ian Baker-Finch, for example, was disappointed that he could no longer compete. “As a person and an honorary invitee, I’m disappointed because it was my favorite day of the year,” Baker-Finch said. “I loved it. I’ll still be there, though, and I’ll watch like everyone else.”
Other players, such as Curtis Strange, did not seem too upset with Augusta’s decision. “We had our time, and now it’s their time,” Strange said. “I think it’s extremely nice that we’re invited to come back with your spouse. It’s been nice for these guys who want to hit balls and play practice rounds. But times change.”
While the field will be limited this year, the Par 3 Contest will still be broadcast on ESPN and should be a fun event to watch for any golf fan during the week of The Masters.
Cover Image via Flickr