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Fowler wins the Par 3 Contest in his return to the Masters after a three-year absence

Rickie Fowler Rickie Fowler - The Canadian Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Rickie Fowler has returned to the Masters after a three-year absence, and already he's been able to lift up a trophy.

The question now is whether that will cost him a chance to slip on a jacket.

Fowler won the traditional Par 3 Contest at Augusta National on Wednesday, making his way around what many consider the most picturesque piece of the property in 5-under par. That was good for a two-stroke victory over Sepp Straka, J.T. Poston and Santiago de la Fuente, and earned Fowler the glittering crystal bowl that goes to the winner.

Yet nobody has won the Par 3 Contest and the green jacket in the same year, leading some to believe in a curse.

“This is a place you don’t want to miss,” said Fowler, who spent most of three years chasing his game before winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year in a playoff with Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin. “Sitting on the couch, it's one of the few events that you would watch as a fan and professional golfer, but it’s a lot better when you’re a part of it."

The serious business of the Masters begins Thursday, though.

The Par 3 Contest on Wednesday was all about fun.

It was about Fowler playing alongside Jordan Spieth, both of their young kids dressed in miniature versions of the traditional white boiler suits that caddies wear at Augusta National. Spieth's son, Sammy, managed to knock his yellow ball into the water in front of the ninth tee, and for a second it looked as if the youngster might dive in after it.

There was Bubba Watson, the two-time Masters champion, giving his putter to his daughter, Dakota, and watching her drain a long one, and Grayson Murray's fiancee, Christina, hitting an approach shot to the eighth to within a few feet of the hole.

Scottie Scheffler had his sister, Sara, on the bag. At one point, the 2022 champion and world No. 1 asked her for the distance to the hole, and she considered it for a moment. “I think about 88,” Sara replied. Turned out to be more like 100.

Nobody had more caddies than Tony Finau, though, who once dislocated his ankle celebrating an ace during the Par 3 Contest but popped it back into place and went on to finish that Masters in the top 10. Along with his wife, Alayna, they had their five children in tow, giving Finau an army of six to help carry his pared-down bag around the course.

Speaking of aces, there were five of them Wednesday.

Luke List, who calls Augusta his hometown these days, had the first, though it wasn't his first in the contest. He had one way back in 2005, after he had earned a Masters invitation with a runner-up finish at the U.S. Amateur.

“This was kind of awesome to have my family there. It was neat,” List said. “I didn't see it go in, just heard the crowd. You know how it is. It's organized chaos out there with the kids, but we had a good time.”

Straka, Viktor Hovland, Gary Woodland and Lucas Glover also had aces on a warm, sun-drenched afternoon, perhaps the last of the sunshine for a while, with the forecast calling for thunderstorms for Thursday's opening round.

“Now I can put my name on that list,” said Straka, who had a hole-in-one on No. 12 on the big course during a practice round last year. "Yeah, it's a very special thing to do, and a great time to have some of my best friends with me.”


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