AUGUSTA, Ga. — For the first time in more than a decade, Tiger Woods plans to play in Wednesday’s Par 3 Contest.
Whether he’ll actually compete to win is, well, another matter.
Considering that no Masters champ has ever won the Par 3 Contest in the same week, Woods likely will not tempt fate. In 2004, the last year he participated in the event, Woods tied for the low score after regulation but opted not to play in the playoff.
“It was raining,” Woods recalled with a grin during his Tuesday news conference.
The four-time Masters champ also remembered another time in which he was 6 under through eight holes, putting himself in position for the win.
“For some reason, the wind came up and I hit two balls in the water on 9,” Woods said. “Just so happened to be that way, you know? Just one of those weird things.”
Woods said the main reason he’s participating in the fun event is to spend time with his children, daughter Sam and son Charlie. They were at the course Tuesday with his girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, and the kids will be his caddies on Wednesday.
“To have a chance to have my kids out there and be able to share that with them, it’s special,” Woods said. “Charlie has seen me win a golf tournament before. Sam, actually she was there at the U.S. Open in 2008, but doesn’t remember it.
“It’s nice to be able to share these things with my family and it just means the world to me. They are excited, I’m excited and can’t wait to go out there.”
Defending champ Bubba Watson was discussing the Par 3 Contest with Woods this week and noted how much Woods was looking forward to the event.
“What a thrill it is to be part of this great event, the Masters, be a part of the Par 3, and then have our kids there,” Watson said. “That’s just the thrill of a lifetime.”
SCOTT’S PUTTER DECISION: Adam Scott’s experiment with a short putter lasted all of three weeks. The broomstick is back in the bag for the Masters.
Mediocre results in the Aussie’s last two starts — a missed cut outside Tampa and a ho-hum tie for 35th at Bay Hill — made the decision process easier.
“It’s very, very easy,” Scott said, describing his transition back to the long putter, which he first put in his bag in 2011 and two years later won the Masters with. “And really two days practice with it and I felt like I was at the levels I was at last year, which are very high, and that was the reason for it.
“I’m coming to a major. I’m not here to throw the balls up in the air and see where they fall. I want to make sure I give myself the best chance to perform at the highest level I need to to win.”
Though the anchoring ban will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, it’s likely Scott will continue with the long putter for as long as he can until then.
“Doesn’t mean I won’t work on other things or continue to develop some alternative method of putting, because obviously there is a change being made at the end of the year,” he said. “But I need to continue to perform well. I want the confidence to build and go into next year fully confident no matter what I’m doing.”
WATSON STILL IMPROVING: You knew someone was going to ask. But Bubba Watson actually handled the question with considerable aplomb.
On Monday, ESPN published the results of an anonymous poll of PGA Tour players. Among the queries was one about which pro they’d be least likely to help if they saw them involved in a fight in a parking lot.
The winner, and we use the term lightly, was Watson.
“Here is the way I take it,” Watson said. “I take it as I need to improve as a man. I take it with pride. I need to get better. And I think over my career, since my rookie season to now, I’ve gotten better. But obviously there’s more room for me to improve as a man. …
“I’m glad that it came out and it’s going to help me improve. So if it’s a bad thing and people don’t like me, then I’ve got to improve and prove them wrong.”
Watson, who defends his title at Augusta National starting on Thursday, said he doesn’t sense any ill will in the locker room. He said he was among those who put his name on the survey “because I’m not going to call out anybody, there’s nobody I dislike on Tour.
“I dislike them if they beat me, but I don’t dislike them as a person,” he said. “So I put my own name down there. … I wrote it down myself.”
Watson, who said he’d never been in a fight, acknowledged some “mess-ups” on the PGA Tour, no doubt thinking back to some disagreements with his caddie caught in the harsh glare of the TV camera.
“I’m trying to get better,” Watson said. “That’s all I can do. I’m glad people that call me out when they do; that’s the only way I can get better.”