Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA — April 6, 2023
The azaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom. The green jackets are pressed, hung up, and waiting for Sunday. The patrons are filling in, and the famous pimento cheese sandwiches are on sale. It’s Masters week in Augusta, Georgia, and the first professional golf major of the year is underway.
Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tom Watson, the traditional Honorary Starters, teed off early this morning. Just before Mike Weir and Kevin Na started the first round at 8 am.
Tiger Woods, playing with Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele, took the tee at 10:18 am. Defending champion Scottie Scheffler’s group with Max Homa and Sam Bennett begins play at 1:36 pm. The final group of the day, Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, and Tony Finau, are scheduled to tee it up at 2 pm.
Yesterday, one of the Masters great traditions returned with the Par-3 contest played over nine holes for the first time since 2019. Covid and bad weather interrupted the fan-favorite activity for the past three years.
Tom Hoge carded a score of 21, combining four pars, four birdies, and a hole-in-one (on the eighth hole) to finish at six-under-par. Only the seventh time the winning golfer recorded an ace on his scorecard in the 61-year history of the for-fun event. Kurt Kitayama and Bubba Watson finished one stroke behind at five-under.
No Par-3 winner has gone on to capture a green jacket in the same year. Hoge will try and break that string as he begins play today in the company of Phil Mickelson and Si Woo Kim.
Yes, “Lefty” is playing this week. Mickelson is one of 18 players from the rival LIV League invited to the 87th edition of America’s most famous professional golf tournament. In addition to Phil (2004, 2006, and 2010 champion), five former winners of the Masters who now play under the banner of LIV are in the field. Charl Schwartzel (2011), Bubba Watson (2012, 2014), Sergio Garcia (2017), Patrick Reed (2018), and Dustin Johnson (2020).
Aces Thrill the Patrons
In addition to Hoge’s ace, three more hole-in-one shots are worthy of mention. Sam Burns, Scottie Scheffler, and Tom Kim all played together Wednesday. They finished their round by all teeing off at the same time from the ninth tee. Scheffler’s ball found the bottom of the hole.
Even more remarkable, Irishman Seamus Power marked a pair of aces on his scorecard. Two holes, two strokes. Back-to-back hole-in-ones on the eighth and ninth holes rewarded the patrons with a rarely-seen accomplishment.
Follow The Lasco Press for continuing coverage of the 2023 Masters through Sunday.