IRELAND’S Padraig Harrington found form on the eve of the Masters by winning the traditional par-three tournament last night – but could be forgiven for not dreaming of adding to his three Majors just yet.
Harrington’s five-under-par total, matched by American Jonathan Byrd, earned him the distinction of becoming the first man to win the light-hearted contest on three occasions.
However, the victory is seen as something of a jinx, as no player in its 51-year history has gone on to don the Green Jacket the following Sunday, as Harrington’s previous experiences attest.
In 2003, when he tied for first and bad weather prevented a play-off, as it did last night, he failed to even make the cut. Twelve months later he won the par-three outright and tied for 13th at the Masters.
World No1 Luke Donald, a par-three winner last year who ended fourth in the Major, swerved the warm-up this time, preferring to prepare on the main course instead ahead of today’s tee-off.
Four-time Masters winner Tiger Woods and US Open champion Rory McIlroy were prevented from playing by a thunderstorm which brought a premature end to the nine-hole tournament. Storms have dogged the build-up to the year’s first Major, with trees felled and bunkers washed out on Tuesday night. More bad weather is forecast today and tomorrow.
Open champion Darren Clarke shunned the par-three in favour of an early nine holes of practice but admitted he was still suffering from a groin injury.
First round selected tee times
1:56pm Harrington, Stricker, Cink
2:29 Rose, Immelman, Fowler
3:35 Woods, Jimenez, Bae
3:46 Donald, F Molinari, Watney
4:41 McDowell, Oosthuizen, Wilson
4:52 Poulter, Johnson, Cantlay
4:58 Westwood, Singh, Furyk
6:42 McIlroy, Cabrera, Watson