April 9, 2015 - 11:59am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Danny Willett
USA Today Sports Images
Danny Willett played alongside 1987 Masters champ Larry Mize on Thursday.

The greens at Augusta National are just so undulating and so fast.

Take this putt you're about to see form Danny Willett on the par-5 13th for instance.

RELATED: Masters leaderboard | Hoffman's eagle | Compton realizes a dream

When the ball was just a little more than halfway to the hole, he was asking it to get moving. Turns out if it hadn't hit the back of the cup and dropped in for an amazing 64-foot birdie, the ball was probably going to sail 8 feet past the hole.

Check it out:

 

Obviously, one does not "plan" to make a putt like that.

Nice early Masters highlight. 

Willett holes roller coaster, 64-foot putt for eagle
April 9, 2015 - 11:42am
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T.J. Auclair
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Charley Hoffman
USA Today Sports Images
Charley Hoffman went for it on the par-5 15th hole at Augusta National on Thursday and his risk paid off.

The great thing about the two par 5s on Augusta National's back nine -- Nos. 13 and 15 -- is they're both terrific risk/reward holes.

Hit a great drive? You have a legit shot to reach the green in two. However, mishit that approach and doom beckons in the form of water.

RELATED: Masters leaderboard | 10 to watch | Compton realizes a dream

On Thursday, early starter Charley Hoffman blasted a fantastic drive on No. 15, positioning himself splendidly to take a crack at the green in two from 234 yards out.

As you can see below, he stiffed it.

 

Hoffman brushed in the eagle putt. After a birdie on the par-3 16th, Hoffman moved to 4 under for the round and was the early Masters leader. 

Beautiful approach sets up short eagle putt for Hoffman
April 9, 2015 - 8:31am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Erik Compton
USA Today Sports Images
As a child, Erik Compton drew a picture of himself playing in the Masters. At 35 years old, he realizes that dream on Thursday morning.

It's been a long, remarkable journey for 35-year-old Masters rookie Erik Compton to earn his spot at Augusta National.

Compton punched his ticket to Augusta after a tie for second a year ago in the U.S. Open.

At 11:03 a.m. today, alongside 1991 Masters champ Ian Woosnam, Compton -- a two-time heart transplant recipient -- will finally realize a dream.

RELATED: Masters leaderboard | Masters first-timers to watch | 10 to watch

Just how long has Compton been thinking about teeing it up in the Masters?

Well, based on a tweet he sent out this morning, it's been a while:

Now that's pretty cool... Let's just hope that unlike the drawing, Compton's tee shot finds the fairway instead of Augusta National's "second cut." 

Life imitates art for Compton at the Masters
April 8, 2015 - 4:05pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
With his children in tow, Tiger Woods participated in the Masters Par 3 Contest on Wednesday for the first time since 2004.

For the first time since 2004, Tiger Woods teed it up in the Masters Par 3 Contest on Wednesday afternoon.

Woods played alongside friends Steve Stricker and Mark O'Meara.

The reason for the decision? His children.

RELATED: Photos from the Par 3 Contest | Masters tee times | 10 to watch

Woods told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi before teeing off that his daughter, Sam, and son, Charlie, watched the event in 2014 while Tiger was out of action with his back injury. Sam and Charlie saw the children of other players taking it in and wanted to be a part of the day.

Tiger explained that when he was feeling better, there was an opportunity that they could caddie.

So on Wednesday, with dad's girlfriend Lindsey Vonn by their side, Sam and Charlie had their wish of toting dad's club's at the Augusta National Par-3 course come true.

Hopefully they didn't plan on dad winning though.

It's well-documented that no player who has won the Par 3 Contest has gone on to win the Masters that same week. Woods didn't seem interested in trying to become the first player to change that.

"Have fun, enjoy it and don't win," he told Rinaldi.

 

 

 

 

Woods, with his kids, plays Par 3 for first time since 2004
April 8, 2015 - 3:49pm
Posted by:
Associated Press
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Michael Madrid, USA Today Sports Images
Jack Nicklaus reacts after a hole-in-one on the fourth hole during the Par 3 Contest prior to the 2015 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.

By Teresa M. Walker, Associated Press

Six-time Masters champion and all-time leading major winner Jack Nicklaus may be 75 years old, but he still has a way of wowing the patrons at Augusta National.

On the grounds where the Golden Bear has a bank of countless memories, he added another on Wednesday in the Par 3 Contest with a hole-in-one on the fourth hole.

His ball bounced twice, then took a third hop before retreating into the hole. Nicklaus was congratulated by playing partners Ben Crenshaw and Gary Player, then acknowledged the ovation from the crowd, raising his arms in the air with a double fist-pump. 
 
"It's funny, I had an interview this morning and I said, 'Well, all I've got to do is go out and win the Par-3 and make a hole-in-one,' and I make a hole-in-one," Nicklaus said. 
 
"I actually hit two more shots that hit right around the edge of the hole, had a chance to go in," he said. "I didn't finish up very well, but we had a lot of fun." 
 
Kevin Streelman beat Camilo Villegas on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the Par-3 Contest. They finished the nine holes tied at 5 under, then each opened the playoff with a par then a birdie before Streelman topped Villegas, who had not one, but two holes-in-one through his first eight holes. 
 
Winning the Par 3 Contest has been considered a bad omen since no one has won both that title and the Masters in the same week. Streelman called it a fun day where his focus was on helping Ethan from the Make-a-Wish Foundation have a great day. 
 
"Done all I can do," Streelman said. "Now I've just got to go out and have fun and play." 
 
Villegas got his first ace on No. 4 along with Jack Nicklaus and Texas Tech star Matias Dominguez of Chile. The Colombian followed that with his second hole-in-one of the day on the 120-yard No. 8, taking him to 5-under 22 and tying Streelman. 
 
Holes-in-one are nothing new for Villegas who had the 14th of his career last week at home with a 5-iron. He said his pitching wedge on his first hole-in-one Wednesday kept trickling back and went in the hole. He used a 54-degree wedge on his second ace. 
 
"The second one, we were a little more emotional there," Villegas said. "We just kind of jumped. Enjoying it, man." 
 
Tiger Woods had company playing the Par 3 for the first time since 2004. His 6-year-old son, Charlie, and 7-year-old daughter, Sam, caddied for him with girlfriend, Olympic skiing champion Lindsey Vonn, joining them. Woods even let his daughter handle his putting, and she showed a deft touch on the green. 
 
"I'll always have memories of my pop at Augusta and now Sam & Charlie," Woods wrote on Twitter. "An amazing day." 
 
Family time is the best part of this event. 
 
Ernie Els let his daughter Samantha putt. Caleb Watson looked adorable in his caddie suit and green hat following his daddy, two-time Masters champ Bubba, from hole to hole. Brendon Todd had his hands full carrying son Oliver when not swinging a club. 
 
"Definitely the best part was carrying my son, six-month-boy, all over showing him off to the crowd," Todd said.
 
Here's Nicklaus's ace:
 

 

As PGA Tour pro Bob Estes noted on Twitter, we golf fans should savor these moments:

 

 

As it turns out, we probably shouldn't have been surprised by the ace. Nicklaus called it in an interview with ESPN's Scott Van Pelt earlier on Wednesday:

 

 

T.J. Auclair of PGA.com contributed to this story.

 
 
Jack Nicklaus scores ace in Masters Par 3 Contest, Streelman wins