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    Moore Rolls to Par 3 Contest Victory

    2014 Par Three Contest

    Let the record show that Ryan Moore charged into the lead with four consecutive birdies, then clinched his Par 3 Contest victory with a 15-footer for birdie at No. 9.

    He shot 6-under 21, coming within one stroke of the record set by Art Wall in 1965 and Gay Brewer in 1973.

    "My coach and I have been working on my wedges lately," Moore said after receiving the Crystal Pedestal Bowl for winning. "My wife caddied for me, and I knew I'd get in trouble if I didn't hit it right at every hole."

    If he can win the Masters, Moore would be the first Par 3 Contest champion to accomplish both in the same year.

    Victory on Wednesday is considered a jinx of sorts, but with this Tournament thought to be more wide open than most, maybe Moore can change that fortune.

    Indeed, the 55th Par 3 Contest reflected the atmosphere of an annual family get-together for all generations, highlighted by a leader board heavy with first-timers and past champions.

    Kevin Stadler, one of a record 24 Masters rookies in the field, played with his father, Craig, who won the Green Jacket in 1982 when Kevin was 2 years old.

    On a sunny Wednesday afternoon 32 years later, Kevin Stadler birdied the last three holes with Dad in tow to shoot 23 and finish second.

    Two Masters champions turned back the clock, too. Fuzzy Zoeller, the last player to win in his first Masters appearance, tied Stadler at 4-under 23. Bernhard Langer, who won at Augusta National in 1985 and 1993, led a group at 3-under that also included Masters first-timers Joost Luiten and Victor Dubuisson.   

    There were three aces, two carded at No. 2, where 1998 champion Mark O’Meara and honorary invitee Buddy Alexander posted a 1. Matt Jones, making his Masters debut with his victory Sunday at the Shell Houston Open, aced No. 3.

    The Par 3 course weaves a tapestry of its own, played across the shimmering waters of DeSoto Springs Pond and Ike’s Pond. It blends into the land as a natural amphitheater for players and patrons.

    Amid the rainbow of colors, one grouping again took center stage.

    Fore, please … Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player on the tee. The Big Three were back, and with a combined 13 Masters titles between them, it was easy to relive the epic battles they had against each other across Augusta National and the decades.

    Both Player and Nicklaus birdied No. 6, at 140 yards the longest hole on the Par 3 course. Player also birdied No. 9, tipped his cap to the patrons and kicked up a leg in celebration.

    At No. 7, Nicklaus chided Palmer about what club to hit. Jack grabbed a club that was one longer and offered it to his one-time rival.

    “I want you to get it there,” Nicklaus said.

    “You don’t think I can get it there?” Palmer said.

    Arnie, of course, didn’t change clubs, and although he missed the green, his shot was long enough.

    Thursday, they will be together again, stirring more memories on the first tee, this time as Honorary Starters to officially begin the 78th Masters.