AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Masters rookie Ben Martin stood four under par and tied for the lead when he arrived at the ninth hole Wednesday afternoon in the Par-3 Tournament, aware of the history at Augusta National GC. Yes, he knew that no Par-3 Tournament winner has ever gone on to win the green jacket later that same week.
But the native of Rome, Ga., who has been going to the Masters as a spectator since he was 6 years old, didn't intentionally try to dunk two balls into the pond, which is exactly what happened to the U.S. Amateur runner-up. No, he doesn't believe in any Par-3 jinx.
"Heck, I was trying to win," said the 22-year-old Clemson senior. "That would have been sweet. I just hit a bad shot trying to get it too close."
As it turned out, anything but a hole-in-one would have done no good. Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, playing in his second Masters, shot a 6-under 21 and won by two strokes over David Duval, K.J. Choi, Jerry Pate and British Amateur champion Matteo Manassero of Italy, who at 16 is the youngest player in Masters history. Pate, an invitee via his 1976 U.S. Open victory, won the Par-3 Tournament in 2005.
Steve Stricker and Craig Stadler were next a 3 under par.
There were no skins won in the exhibition, though there were two holes-in-one. Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell accomplished what Martin could not, acing the ninth. An onlooker asked Furyk jokingly if he used a 3-iron on the 135-yard hole. "No, actually it was a little 4-iron, a baby 4-iron," he said with a laugh.
-- Dave Shedloski