First, the good news for Padraig Harrington and Jonathan Byrd: you won the Masters Par 3 contest! Now for the bad news: you won the Masters Par 3 contest!
As students of Augusta National’s opening act well know, no golfer who has taken home the trophy on Wednesday afternoon in the 52 years since the competition began in 1960 has ever shrugged himself into a green jacket on Sunday night. And while few observers would have picked Harrington and Byrd to finish first anyway, for sure neither one has a chance now after officials named them co-winners of the rain-shortened tilt on the 1,060-yard, nine-hole honey of a track designed in 1958 by George Cobb and Augusta National chair Clifford Roberts.
Just don’t tell that to the two contestants. For, even though defending Par 3 champ Luke Donald decided against tempting fate and sat out the event, Byrd for one was unconcerned about any type of jinx.
“I like making putts, whatever they are for,” he told reporters about sinking a birdie putt on the ninth hole to tie for the lead at 5-under 22 -- moments before officials halted the proceedings in which tourney participants, noncompeting past champs, and other invited guests compete.
For Harrington, the third time was a charm. The three-time major champ won the event in 2004 and shared the victory with David Toms the year before. If history is any indication, however, he’ll go home jacket-less again this year.