the masters par 3


South Africa's Rory Sabbatini has won the traditional par-three competition staged on the day before the start of the Masters.

The 32-year-old went round the nine-hole course in 22 shots - five under par - to register a win in the warm-up event, treated as something of a preparatory afternoon's golf before the serious matter of the main competition gets underway.

Spain Miguel Angel Jimenez and American Woody Austin finished joint second, one shot behind Sabbatini.

Despite his early success in Masters week, many view victory in the par-three tournament as something of a curse as no player has ever gone on to win the Masters in the same year they triumphed in the warm-up event.

However, Sabbatini, who carded the lowest round of the day in difficult conditions on the final day of the competition last year, said he was pleased to have won as it gives him a chance to end the stigma of the par-three contest.

"You can't break the curse unless you've won the par three to begin with," he said.

Several of the top players rejected the chance to take part, believing it to be a distraction during their preparations for the Masters.

Among these players was world number one and bookies' favourite Tiger Woods, who is hoping to win the first major of the year as part of a possible grand slam of all four