AUGUSTA, GA. — The biggest gallery roars from Ryan Moore’s group at the Par-3 Contest came on 2-foot putts.
And they weren’t intended for the professional golfers.
Moore certainly deserved a salute Wednesday at Augusta National Golf Club. He won the par-3 competition by circling the executive course in 6-under-par 21, good for a two-stroke victory over Kevin Stadler and Fuzzy Zoeller.
The Cascade Christian product came within one stroke of the course record – a 7-under-20 – set by Art Wall, Jr. in 1965, and matched by Gay Brewer in 1973.
As good as Moore was – he made short putts on Nos. 1, 4, 6, 7 and 9, and chipped in from 30 feet for birdie at No. 5 – the show-stoppers were the other members of the group.
A group filled with men new to fatherhood.
Moore was joined by his wife, Nichole, who was the caddie and caretaker of 17-month-old Tucker, the couple’s son. Scott Stallings and Kevin Streelman also had their young children along for the round.
On the third hole, Tucker – carrying a plastic golf club with him everywhere – decided to walk up to the green and knock in a short putt. The crowd cheered as the infant bent over to grab the golf ball out of the cup.
He must have had fun, too, because he dropped the golf ball back on the green, and made one more putt, which elicited more gallery reaction.
And as he walked off the green, Tucker started swinging his club around, almost like cartoon character Bamm-Bamm Rubble from "the Flintstones."
“It kept me fairly distracted the whole time. I just stepped up and hit shots, and honestly was having fun with it,” Moore said. “We had a great time. It was like a whole family afternoon the day before the tournament.”
The highlight of Moore’s round came on the only green he did not hit in regulation – at No. 5. Missing left and hitting a marshal standing near the back of the green, he drained a right-to-left curling chip shot.
No Par-3 Contest winner has ever gone on to win the Masters in the same weekend.
“I hit good shots. I made good putts. In the end, it was good, quality good, really, to make that many birdies,” Moore said. “Does it make me feel I will shoot 6-under tomorrow (in the first round of the Masters)? Not necessarily. But it does make me feel good about aspects of my game that are very important to me.”