Rory McIlroy is switching it up this year at Augusta National and passing on the hit-and-giggle game that is Wednesday's Par-3 contest. McIlroy has been a significant part of this Masters week tradition, participating with Caroline Wozniacki as his caddie and then last year with One Direction's Niall Horan looping. Friends, spouses, significant others and children often put on the white jumpsuit caddie outfit for the contest. Rory was obviously a major focus of what is now an ESPN broadcast event.
McIlroy's reason for skipping the event was blunt: "I'm not going to play the Par-3 Contest this year as it's just too much hassle and it's a bit of a distraction," he announced to several media members. The event can be a circus, one that Tiger Woods took off his Masters week schedule for a long stretch before participating again last year. If you have a late Wednesday tee time at the Par-3 event and an early Thursday morning tee time in the first round, I suppose you could say it's a hassle.
Last year, the crowds swelled around Rory and the One Direction star, who shanked a shot horribly into the middle of the pond on the Par-3 course ...
... and then took an L on the pine straw, nearly damaging Rory's precious sticks the day before the Masters.
Rory has been uneven through the first quarter of the year, a stretch he proclaimed he could use to regain the world No. 1 ranking heading into the Masters. Instead, he's at No. 3 behind Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. He's displayed some of the inconsistent form that he showed at last year's Masters, when he shot a 40 on the front nine on Friday before going 15-under over his last 45 holes.
We know Rory has legendary ability and talent, but he has thrown away too many shots recently and hasn't made the most of his rounds. Given that the Masters is the last remaining piece of his potential career slam, something only five players have ever accomplished, Rory may have figured it's time to switch things up and be completely serious on the eve of the first round.