Augusta – It’s Day Three here at Augusta National and one more day until the real Masters Tournament gets underway.
Once again golfers and patrons can expect picture perfect weather with unseasonably high temperatures expected to reach 88 degrees. Rain is in the forecast late in the day for Thursday’s first round.
The big happening today is the annual par-3 tournament and folks at home can finally partake in the Masters splendor. The prelude to the main event, which begins here at 1 p.m., will be televised on ESPN from 3 to 5 p.m.
This year actually marks the golden anniversary of the par-3 contest. It was woven into the Masters tradition in 1960 with Sam Snead winning the inaugural event.
The nine-hole, 1,060-yard course is located just east of the Augusta National clubhouse and is built around DeSoto Springs Pond and Ike’s Pond. Tournament participants, non-competing past champions and honorary invitees can participate, though it’s never certain just who all will play. Normally players with children will have their kids caddie for them and take a few putts during the round. Holes-in-one are almost always made. It’s a fun event.
Of course, as always the question is whether Tiger Woods will participate. He has played it before but not very often and not lately. His children, Sam and Alexis, are not here with him this week, so that might preclude him from playing. Then again, he has vowed to be more fan-friendly in the aftermath of his scandal and what better place to be demonstrate that new philosophy.
Also on tap today is the chairman’s address. Atlanta native and UGA grad Billy Payne, Augusta National’s chairman since 2006, meets the media on the Wednesday before the tournament every year to talk about all things Masters.
Generally there’s less activity on the actual 18-hole golf course on Wednesday than the previous two days. Most of the players played practice rounds on both Monday and Tuesday and walking and playing the nearly 7,500-yard course can be physically draining. Most work will be done on the range and practice areas. And, of course, in the par-3 tournament.
Nevertheless, it looks like Woods is going out again today. They just flashed on the big board in the press building that he’s practicing again today with Mark O’Meara. Say this for Tiger: He’s been gridning to get ready. With nine holes on Sunday, he had played 45 holes in three days heading into Wednesday.