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MediaWatch: Big 3 carry Par 3 Contest telecast

April 06, 2011

Televising the Par 3 Contest on the eve of the Masters is entertaining if for no other reason than to give us another chance or, sooner or later, a last chance, to watch the Big Three together -- Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

"We have to cherish every time we see them together because it's not going to happen that much in the future," ESPN's Curtis Strange said.

The sentiment probably crossed the mind of anyone watching Palmer limping and in some pain, though the ESPN crew never offered an explanation for his stilted gait. Golf World contributor Dave Shedloski provided the missing explanation via Twitter. "If Arnie looks a little stiff today in Par-3 Contest, he's been having some trouble with his hips the last few days. He is 81," Shedloski wrote.


(Getty Images)


It was fun as well to eavesdrop on some of their banter, given how they spent the better part of their careers beating up on one another.

When at the top of the show it was revealed that Nicklaus had helped reaffix a spike in Player's shoe, Palmer chimed in, "He just hired Jack to take care of his shoes."

"And I didn't tip him," Player replied.

"I lose all the way around," Nicklaus said.

When Palmer apparently was asking someone in the crowd to give him a read on a putt, Nicklaus said, "Don't answer him. He can't hear you anyway." Palmer wears a hearing aid.


The late CBS producer Frank Chirkinian once said, "There is nothing humorous at the Masters. Here, small dogs do not bark and babies don't cry."

Yet another good reason to televise the Par 3 Contest is to demonstrate that there is laughter, even babies, though no small dogs.

A good time was had by all, including those players who had their kids on hand, many of them toddlers. "The Day Care Open," as Geoff Shackelford, in his inimitable way, described it on his blog.

Nicklaus was using a replica of the oversized putter he used to win the Masters in 1986. The original was a MacGregor Response that sold several hundreds of thousands of copies in the wake of Nicklaus' victory.


Nicklaus also had an oversized grandson with him, Nick O'Leary, who caddied for him. O'Leary was a star tight end in high school and is headed to Florida State on a football scholarship.

"I think he can handle the bag," ESPN's Mike Tirico said.


Tennis star Andy Roddick, who caddied for Zach Johnson, was asked whether anything about the Masters and Augusta National reminded him of tennis.

"I think the parallel is obviously Wimbledon with its traditions and all white and the no sponsors and just the pride the people have in being in the venue," he said. "I see a lot of similarities between the two."


Ian Poulter's mom, Theresa, caddied for him in the Par 3 Contest. "His mother Theresa, so to speak," Tirico said.

-- John Strege