Reuters - Wed, 07 Apr 23:49:00 2010
Favourites for the 2010 US Masters title heaved a collective sigh of relief when Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa won the Par-Three contest and shouldered the weight of its fabled curse.
While golfers enjoyed some laughs on a sunny Augusta afternoon with their children or grandchildren enlisted for caddie duty, Tiger Woods was among those who chose not to tempt the fates and skipped it.
Since the Par-Three became part of the Masters build-up in 1960 no winner has gone on to claim the Green Jacket the same year.
Oosthuizen, 27, became the third successive South African to win the event following Tim Clark and Rory Sabbatini.
Clark finished tied for 13th in last year's championship, and Sabbatini missed the cut after his Par-Three victory.
Oosthuizen, who won the 2010 Andalucia Open last month for his first European Tour title, birdied the last for six-under-par 21 on the nine-hole course at the east edge of Augusta National.
Americans David Duval, Jerry Pate and South Korean K.J. Choi were tied on four-under along with 16-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, set to become the youngest ever competitor in the Masters.
The day's featured group included a trio of golf's greatest names - Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
Palmer, 80, ignited a huge roar when he sank a monster length birdie putt at the last and pumped his arms in delight.
Palmer and Nicklaus will hit ceremonial tee shots Thursday to launch the season's first major championship.