It's become part of Masters canon that no player who has won the Par 3 Contest has gone on to win the tournament. We wondered, how do players who win the Par 3 event actually do in the tournament? Do they tend to underperform or do they play as well as anyone else?
First, some background.
The Masters Par 3 Contest has been a staple of the tournament since 1960 when Sam Snead won the nine-hole competition with a score of 4-under.
Snead — who won the Masters in 1949, 1952, and 1954 — would go on to place 11th in the tournament after his Par 3 win. Little did he know what precedent he was setting.
In the 57 years since, no golfer who has won the Par 3 contest has gone on to win the Masters in the same year.
There have been some close calls.
In 1990, Raymond Floyd won the pre-tournament contest at -4. Floyd would go on to lead the Masters field after the second and third rounds, and held a four-shot lead with six holes left. But a late Nick Faldo charge led to a sudden-death playoff, which Floyd lost on the second hole.
Only one other Par 3 winner came within one place of the green jacket. In 1993, Chip Beck posted a 6-under to win the Par 3 contest, before coming in four strokes behind Bernhard Langer for second place.
Only 11 Par 3 winners have ever finished in the top 10, and recent results don’t look good. In seven of the past 12 years (not counting 2017, where the contest was canceled due to rain and 2018 when Tom Watson won and did not play in the tournament), the Par 3 winner failed to even make the cut.
Here's what we get when we compare the score of every Par 3 winner who made the tournament cut to the tournament winner's score.
Of the 58 Par 3 winners who played in the Masters the same year, 18 didn't make the cut. The average score for the remaining 40 is 1.5 strokes above par, compared to an average of 9.3 strokes below par for the Masters winners in those years. In 57 years, only 16 players who won the Par 3 event finished the Masters below par that year.
So, to answer the question that started all this, how do players who win the Par 3 event actually do in the tournament? Not very well at all.
Here’s the full list of every Par 3 winner and how they performed in the tournament:
|Year||Par 3 winner||Par 3 score||Masters finish||Masters score|
|1964||Labron Harris Jr.||−4||43||9|
|1965||Art Wall Jr.||−7||T45||11|
|1974||Sam Snead (2)||−5||T20||-2|
|1981||Isao Aoki (2)||−5||T45||12|
|1992||Davis Love III||−5||T25||-4|
|1996||Jay Haas (2)||−5||T36||7|
|1998||Sandy Lyle (2)||−3||CUT||N/A|
|2004||Pádraig Harrington (2)||−4||T13||E|
|2017||Contest rained out||N/A||N/A||N/A|