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Harrington out to end jinx after par-three glory

FOR the third time in 10 years, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington will have to beat an Augusta jinx to become Masters champion.

The 40-year-old Dubliner last night became the first player to win a hat-trick of par-three

titles at the Augusta National, although just like his first victory in 2003, he had to share the honour.

The family fun event could

not be completed because of a thunderstorm, leaving Harrington as joint winner, alongside American Jonathan Byrd, after both returned five-under-par scores of 22.

Since the par-three event started in 1960, nobody has lifted that crown and then won the Masters event proper four days later.

In 2003, Harrington tied with David Toms, but bad weather prevented a play-off then as well. Twelve months later, he beat Argentina’s Eduardo Romero in sudden death.

Last year’s Wednesday champion, Luke Donald, did not even take part this time because he wanted to focus on the main event, while Open champion Darren Clarke was another non-participant because he wanted to rest a sore groin.

Most players treat it as light relief and invite family, friends or even celebrities to act as their caddies.

Lee Westwood and Thomas Bjorn had television presenters Ant and Dec – Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly – carrying their bags. Bjorn even finished his round with a hole-in-one.

Harrington went round with his sons Patrick (eight) and Ciaran (four), as well as Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa and American amateur Patrick Cantlay.

“This is my 13th time playing it and the least amount of wind, so the scoring was on,” said the three-time major champion.

“The whole thing is memorable. I didn’t hit anything stone dead or anything like that.”

Water

He actually missed the last green and was close to going into the water, but chipped to four feet and saved par.

Former US Open champion Jerry Pate, winner of the par-three event in 2005, might have denied Harrington, but could not continue after reaching four under after five holes.

Winning again would not have bothered Pate as he is not playing in the actual Masters.

The par three is open to many major champions whose days of participating in the Masters are over.

Television commentators Nick Faldo, Johnny Miller and Ian Baker-Finch also took part, as did Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

That illustrious trio had another function to carry out today, hitting ceremonial drives off the first tee in their roles as honorary starters.


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