Matt Wallace enjoyed a memorable start to his first Masters as he edged out veteran Sandy Lyle to win the Par 3 Contest at Augusta National.
Lyle appeared set to win the traditional eve-of-tournament competition for a record-equalling third time as he posted an impressive five-under 22 around the nine-hole layout, and his clubhouse lead remained intact with only three groups left to finish.
Wallace was two behind with only two holes to play, but he then made the fourth hole-in-one of the day at the eighth – and the 100th of the tournament – to tie the Scot, although he missed a good birdie chance for the outright win in regulation on the last green.
The leading pair traded pars at each of the first two extra holes, but Wallace secured victory back on the eighth when he came within a couple of inches of another ace while Lyle’s wayward tee shot found the water.
Wallace’s flying finish denied Lyle the chance to emulate Padraig Harrington as a three-time winner of the Par 3 Contest at the age of 61, although he would have been seven years shy of Tom Watson’s record as the oldest champion last year.
However, the Englishman now has to deal with the infamous Par 3 curse, as he attempts to become the first player in history to win the Masters in the same week as the Wednesday warm-up.
I wanted to hole that putt on the last and I didn’t and then it went to a play-off and it got a little bit more serious than how the nine holes went, he said. And I guess I just I wanted to win this, I want to break history somewhat.
US Amateur runner-up Devon Bling also joined the hole-in-one club when he aced the seventh before going on to finish joint runner-up on four under along with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and Germany’s Martin Kaymer.
Mark O’Meara, the 1998 Masters winner, recorded the first ace of the day at the fifth, while Ireland’s Shane Lowry also enjoyed a hole-in-one at the second.