Hello friends and welcome to the best day of the year.
Listen, I love the competition that major championships bring. I love watching the pros take on Amen Corner, and I love the way my resting heart rate gets dangerously high on Sunday afternoon as I watch the action unfold.
But in my opinion, nothing beats the Masters Par-3 Contest. We get to see an unbuttoned version of even the most serious pros. We get to see PGA Tour players react as their kids run around Augusta National and ultimately steal the show. I love the Par-3 Contest not just because of all the amazing photos that come out of it, but because we get to see the world’s most famous golfers interact with their loved ones.
Let’s take a look at some of the best parts of the event, shall we?
These aren’t your run-of-the-mill, “everyone throw on khakis and the closest thing to a clean white shirt you’ve got, we’re heading down to the beach to take our Christmas Card” shots. These are the ultimate Christmas card photos, the ones that are getting a spot front and center on your friends’ refrigerators instead of stuffed into a box somewhere.
Shout out to Jay Monahan, who will probably get dozens of Masters-related Christmas cards come December.
As one of five children, my family’s Christmas card photos were always chaotic, with at least one crier, one frowner and one kid paying no attention at all. Kudos to the photographer who got everyone looking at the camera for these!
It’s not everyday we get an up-close and personal look at Tour players’ better halves, but today we did.
First up we have Mr. and Mrs. World No. 1. We’ve seen a lot of the Schefflers in the last six weeks, with Scottie winning three of his last five starts.
Next up we have Brooks Koepka and Jena Sims. Jena always kills it in terms of her outfits, and today was no exception. I also couldn’t help but notice that Koepka has a mic on his hat … which potentially has something to do with the upcoming golf docuseries on Netflix.
Koepka and Sims weren’t the only engaged couple partaking in the Par-3 Contest today. Collin Morikawa and Kat Zhu also made an appearance. For those of you who don’t know, Zhu played golf at Pepperdine, so I’m sure she was a huge asset to have on the bag today.
Kids. The ones who not only turn Tour players into parents, but perhaps more importantly, give them a new sense of “perspective.” My wise coworker, Dylan Dethier, once wrote in his Monday Finish that we “don’t rank babies in this column.” This is true. I will, however, give a shoutout to the handful of Tour kids who forever made their mark on the golf world during the Par-3 Contest today.
First up we have Kepa Rahm. I’m glad he’s getting some attention now, because Kelley Cahill Rahm is pregnant, meaning he’s going to have to share the attention with a younger sibling soon. So let’s all give Kepa the support he deserves today.
We hadn’t seen much of Kepa since Rahm’s U.S. Open win, and he’s grown a lot since (babies tend to do that, you know).
How adorable! And Kepa was so excited to be there. Can you blame him?
Next up we have Azalea Garcia, who was literally named after the flowers at Augusta National. She too has grown a lot since we last saw her at the 2019 Masters.
I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge the depth in the Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and Tony Finau pairing. Simpson and Finau both have five kids and Watson has two. They were rolling 12 kids deep for the Par 3 contest!
You could field all sorts of sports teams with those kids. Also, I couldn’t help but think of my favorite movie, Cheaper by the Dozen, when I saw this crew on my television today, so thanks to the Finaus, Simpsons and Watsons for that.
Sophia Na might be the most stylish kid in all of Georgia this week. I mean, just look at those sunglasses.
And finally, we have Poppy McIlroy. We don’t get to see the full McIlroy family in public often, so enjoy!
I’m so glad that we got to experience the Par-3 Contest for the first time since 2019 today, but it did get cut short due to weather. McIlroy only got to hit one shot, and Spieth didn’t even start. I’m bummed we didn’t get to see JT and Spieth, and I’m really bummed we didn’t get to see DJ and Paulina. Tiger’s resting up for the rest of the week, but it also would’ve been fun to see Sam and Charlie out there as well.
Update: We actually did get to see Jordan, Annie and Sammy Spieth thanks to this adorable Instagram post.
Nelly and Jessica Korda. Francesco and Edoardo Molinari. Brooks and Chase Koepka.
There are a handful of talented golf siblings, and we were reminded of that today when six-time LPGA Tour winner Minjee Lee caddied for her brother, Min Woo Lee in the Par-3.
The old(er) guys
Gary Player, Tom Watson and Raymond Floyd played the Par-3 Contest together, and they put on a show. They each stuck their tee shots on the 1st hole to just a few feet, and they were mic’d up so the patrons could hear and interact with them. And trust me when I say that these guys have still got it.
Just a friendly reminder that Gary Player is 86 (!) years old.
Not only did he come *this* close to making an ace, but he’s got more energy at 86 than I’ve got at 27.
Par-3 MVP: Frankie Fleetwood
There’s no denying it. Frankie Fleetwood stole the show today. I want to be as cool at this four-year-old when I grow up.
The backwards hat. The Nike Blazers. Just all-around incredible style from this young man. Not to mention, his interactions with his dad were just the sweetest.
And finally, this kid is an athlete who respects the Rules of the game.
Here’s to (hopefully) seeing a lot more of Frankie in upcoming months, and to counting down the days to the 2023 Masters Par-3 Contest.