AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tom Watson may have come up just short in his bid to win the British Open at 59 years old, but he did pull off another remarkable feat on Wednesday: winning the Masters Par 3 Contest at 68 years old.
Watson made six birdies in nine holes to edge Tommy Fleetwood by a stroke and become the oldest player by six years to win the event (sixty-two-year-old Sam Snead won the event in 1974).
The Watson Watch was officially on when he birdied four of the five holes playing alongside two other giants of the game: Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, who shot a sporty four-under of his own to tie for third.
No player has won the Par 3 and gone on to win the regular tournament, but that won’t be a problem this year for Watson, who had just one mission this week.
“Since I’m not playing in the tournament, I thought, ‘Let’s go for it this year,'” he said afterward.
Watson’s win — great as it was — wasn’t even the most remarkable thing to happen on a breezy afternoon on the hilly, loblolly-lined layout.
Tony Finau made an ace at the 7th, then rolled his ankle during a celebratory trot down the fairway.
Minutes later Jack Nicklaus’s grandson, Gary, on the bag for gramps, holed out a tee shot on the 9th, sending a charge through the property and tears to Jack’s eyes.
It was undoubtedly a Par 3 Contest for the ages.