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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mendoza: Historic 18-hole Par 3 course

SEVERAL hours from now, we will know who won the 82nd Masters, the first of the year’s four Majors in golf.

And, if plans didn’t go awry, I’d still be here in serene Dumaguete City as you read this. Yet again, I’d written this in advance.

I had to or I’d break a covenant with you that I’d do my utmost to be in this corner, come rain or shine, though the heavens fall.

Thus, I did this the day the Masters Par 3 Competition had concluded in Augusta, Georgia—on Thursday, a day before, God willing, I was to fly out of NAIA 3 for a three-day sojourn to Negros Oriental.

As I said here a million and one times, the Augusta National is my favorite golf course outside of the Philippines. The reason is, quite simply, I’ve been there—a place where many golfers consider as the Vatican of golf.

Now to the Masters Par 3 competition.

A traditional event preceding the four-day Masters, it drew 22 of the 87 invited players to this year’s Masters.

Tom Watson, the Masters winner in 1977 and 1981, won the Par 3 competition, hitting six birdies in his first eight holes in the nine-hole contest.

But he had to sink a tricky three-footer on the last hole to win by one over England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Thomas Pieters, who tied for second with similar five-under par totals.

Jack Nicklaus, the six-time Masters winner, was third at four-under. But he did a sky-high leap of joy when his grandson GT aced No. 9.

In triumph, Watson, 68, made history as the oldest to win the Masters Par 3, even duplicating his 1982 triumph as the defending Masters champion that year. I hope the victory of Watson, my fellow senior citizen, had rubbed off on me when I played the Par 3 course that is the Bravo Golf in Sibulan, Negros Oriental, on Saturday?

But unlike the nine-hole Par 3 in Augusta National, which I had the rare privilege to savor its beauty when I covered the 1991 Masters won by Ian Woosnam, Bert Bravo’s Bravo Golf already holds the distinction as the only 18-hole Par 3 course in the country, if not in all of Asia as well.

Each of the 18 par 3s has a distinct character of its own, and the 12 years it took Bert Bravo to build the course is a screaming testament to it.

Take a bow, Pareng Bert. Unquestionably, you are a visionary.
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