AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Luke Donald shrugged off the spectre of the Masters’ Par-3 Contest jinx by winning the annual short-course contest Wednesday on the eve of the championship.
Donald won the fun-filled nine-hole event that features player’s children dressed as caddies and good natured competition with a score of five-under-par 22.
Tied for second one stroke back were 1976 Masters champion Raymond Floyd and 2009 winner Angel Cabrera of Argentina.
In the 51 years the event has been staged since Sam Snead won the inaugural contest in 1960, no Par-3 winner has gone on to victory in the Masters the same year.
Floyd came within an eyelash of ending the jinx in 1990, but lost the Masters in a playoff with Nick Faldo.
Last year’s Par-3 winner was South African Louis Oosthuizen, who missed the Masters cut, but went on to win the 2010 British Open.
Still, Donald took his performance sign as a positive as he collected the crystal trophy.
“Some short shots that you hit out here are similar to the course, so it’s partly why I play some years,” said Donald, who is seeking his first major crown. “I think that it’s good preparation.
“If you’re hitting wedges close it’s only a good thing.”
World number one Martin Kaymer of Germany does not think Donald has the jinx to worry about, tipping the Briton as the player to beat in the tournament because of his brilliant short game and putting.
“It’s a big compliment coming from the world’s best ranked player right now,” Donald said. “So you feed off comments like that.
“I think when your peers are speaking highly about something, you can feed off it and make yourself believe that you’re better than you might even think you are.”
Donald’s fellow-Briton Graeme McDowell, the reigning U.S. Open champion, took no chances with the jinx by passing up the Par-3 Contest to watch the Champions League match between Manchester United and Chelsea on television.
The Northern Irishman was surely happy with his decision as the United fan got to see a 1-0 victory.
Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Julian Linden