Aces wild on short course

Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson
Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson thrill the huge crowds during the par-3 contest.

It was raining aces – and records – during today’s time-honoured par-3 contest at Augusta National.

Jimmy Walker earnt the dubious distinction of carrying the jinx into the tournament proper with no winner in the 57 years of the short-course event having gone on to win the green jacket later in the week.

But the American at least will have a piece of history to savour after carding an astonishing eight-under-par 19 to break the record of 20 previously held by Art Wall (1965) and Gay Brewer (1973).

Walker’s round included six birdies and a hole-in-one on the second, one of a record nine aces for the day, prompting him to say he can beat the curse.

“I think we’ll do it,” Walker said.

“I’ve been playing pretty well. … I’ve been feeling good. And I feel good coming into this week.”

Perhaps the most stirring was struck by 80-year-old Gary Player, who backed his tee shot on No. 7 into the cup for a record fourth hole-in-one of his Masters career, beating another former mark – that of Jack Nicklaus as the oldest player to achieve the feat.

Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler aced the fourth hole on successive shots – and then took photographs of their golf balls nestled together in the cup. “It might have been the hardest shot I ever had to hit, trying to follow them,” said Jordan Spieth, who was the third to play and put his tee shot close, but not close enough, drawing comedic boos from the gallery.

Andy Sullivan, Zach Johnson, David Lingmerth, Smylie Kaufman and Webb Simpson followed suit, burying short irons of their own.

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