Thursday, April 11, 2002

Masters Notebook:
Price is right on par-3 course

The Associated Press

        AUGUSTA, Ga. — Sometimes, winning at Augusta isn't the ultimate goal. As champion of the Masters par-3 contest Wednesday, Nick Price knows the feeling.

        Price defeated Mark Calcavecchia on the second hole of a playoff to earn one of the more dubious titles in golf. No player who has won the par-3 contest has gone on to win the main tournament that year.

        Price and Calcavecchia tied with scores of 5-under 22 on the cute little course, located just behind the 10th hole at Augusta National.

        Price won when Calcavecchia dumped two shots into the huge lake on the second playoff hole. After the second water ball, Calcavecchia reached over and shook Price's hand.

        While Price won the tournament, the star of the day was Toshi Izawa of Japan.

        Izawa made holes-in-one on Nos. 5 and 6 and joined Claude Harmon (1968) as only the second player to ace back-to-back holes on the par-3 course.

        Izawa also made quadruple-bogey on No. 4 and finished at 1 under.

        “I don't want to use up all my luck today,” he said. “I want to save some for the tournament.”

        NO CHANGE HERE: Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson said the fifth hole needs to be lengthened, but it won't come at the expense of moving the fourth green, as many people thought it might.

        “It will probably involve moving the bunkers,” Johnson said.

        It takes only 230 yards to carry the fairway bunkers on the left side of the dogleg-left hole. Moving the traps further down the fairway or enlarging them would demand more from the drive.

        In the most drastic overhaul of the course ever, nine holes were lengthened for this year's tournament, but No. 5 was left alone.

        “We're always going to have changes here,” Johnson said. “We have got to do something with No. 5, no question about it.”

        STATE OF THE BEAR: Jack Nicklaus thinks his days of being competitive at the highest levels of golf are nearing an end.

        This year, back problems forced Nicklaus to skip the Masters. He believes his game right now is not “for public consumption.”

        “I'll never play world-class golf again,” he said. “I'd like to play some. I'd like to play some senior golf. I enjoy playing. I really don't care about whether I'm a world-class golfer again. It's not important to me.”

        It's an odd turn for the Golden Bear, who has long discarded the notion that he's getting close to playing at the Masters more for show than for real competition. Last year, the 62-year-old Nicklaus missed the cut for only the fourth time in 42 trips to Augusta.

        He finished sixth in 1998. In 2000, he shot 70 in the second round to briefly get in contention.

        Despite his negative outlook, Nicklaus says he won't rule out returning to the Masters next year.

        “If I can play and play decently, I'd love to come back,” Nicklaus said. “If I can't, I'm not going to go out there with 4-woods and 3-woods on every hole” for approach shots into the green.

        PERKS PICK: Because he passed the test on the Island Hole, Craig Perks gets to see how another of the toughest par 3s in golf plays.

        It's No. 12 at the Masters. Perks drew an invitation to Augusta after he won The Players Championship three weeks ago with a thrilling finish that included a birdie on the famed 17th.

        So, which hole is more difficult?

        “I'd say 12 here is going to be more difficult, because there's a smaller margin for error,” Perks said after a practice round. “But 17 at TPC is more nerve-racking, because you know it's coming, you know it's coming, and then it's there.”

        On 12 at Augusta, the heart of Amen Corner, players must clear the water and get the ball to land and stay on a narrow, multitiered green. Unpredictable, shifting winds make it hard to know which club to hit, or which direction to start the ball. Tom Weiskopf made a 13 there in 1980.

        On 17 at Sawgrass, wind can play a factor, but usually it's nerves that play a bigger role. A seemingly simple 140-yard hole becomes a lot more difficult with a tournament and a $1 million first prize on the line.

        Having tamed the first challenge, Perks looks forward to the next.

        “Should be a piece of cake, right?” he said jokingly.

        The answer awaits, starting Thursday.

        SUNSET BOYS: Get those hourglasses ready. Two of the most notoriously slow players on tour, Bernhard Langer and Bob Estes, are paired together for the first two rounds. They're in the last threesome Thursday, teeing off at 1:49 p.m. along with Shigeki Maruyama.

        More Masters and local golf coverage at


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