Watson wins Par-3, Nicklaus' grandson has ace
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tom Watson won the Par-3 Contest, and Jack Nicklaus‘ grandson, GT, made a hole-in-one on the final hole Wednesday. You’d be hard pressed to pick one feat being better than the other on the eve of the 82nd Masters.
The family friendly, 9-hole exhibition on Augusta National’s scenic par-3 course saw Watson, Nicklaus and Gary Player dazzle with an array of birdies, only to be outdone by Gary Nicklaus Jr. — GT — who aced the final hole while wearing a caddie bib, having carried his grandfather’s bag for the competition.
The younger Nicklaus, 15, had never made an ace before, and he did so to large cheers from the gallery and tears from his grandfather — the six-time winner of the Masters.
“That’s No. 1 for me,” said Nicklaus, 78, who has tried to have all of his 22 grandchildren participate in the Par-3 event over the years.
“I’m running out of Par-3s,” he said. “So I’ve had to double up.”
That’s why GT’s sister, Nina, also participated as a caddie.
Watson, 68, who won the Masters in 1977 and 1981, also won the Par-3 Contest in 1982. No winner of the Par-3, which began in 1960, has won the Masters in the same year, hence a supposed jinx.
“After I birdied the first four holes, I thought it would be really neat to win the Par-3,” said Watson, who played the last of his 43 Masters in 2016. “I won it a long time ago and of course I didn’t win the tournament. I’m not playing the tournament this year, so I said let’s go for it.”
“It was a marvelous day,” said Player, 82, who was 2 under par.
GT Nicklaus is the son of one of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus’ six children, Gary, who played professional golf for a time. GT is said to be the best of all the grandchildren and the one who appreciates playing the game the most.
GT also played with Jack Nicklaus at the Father/Son Championship in December.
When Jack asked GT on Wednesday if he wanted to hit a tee shot at the 9th — traditionally where family members take their turns during the Par-3 Contest — Jack predicted GT would make an ace.
“I was just trying to hit it on the green, trying to hit a good shot,” the younger Nicklaus said. “This is probably my favorite week of the year. This is a special tournament and golf is a sport I love. To have that happen is unbelievable. But my thought process was to do the best I could.”
When GT Nicklaus hit the shot to the 135-yard hole, he seemed to know it was good immediately, twirling his club and then watching as it hit the green, trickled back toward the hole and ever-so-slowly dropped into the cup.
A big roar went up, and a huge celebration ensued involving Nicklaus, Watson and Player.
“You always want the best for your kids and your grandkids,” Jack Nicklaus said. “To have a hole-in-one on the biggest venue in the world on a day where he’s here to caddie for his grandfather … and then to knock it in the hole. Wow. What a day. I’m sure his father is up there in the trees and hasn’t come down. And to have his sister, Nina, with us too.”