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3rd time a charm? Harrington wins Par 3 by default

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - This doesn't bode well for Padraig Harrington.

Rain and lightning washed out the end of the Par 3 tournament at the Masters on Wednesday, leaving Harrington and Jonathan Byrd as the de facto champions at 5 under. It's an honor most golfers might rather avoid, considering no Par 3 champion has ever gone on to capture the green jacket.

It's only the second time since the Par 3 began in 1960 that there were dual winners because of suspension. One of those winners in 2003? None other than Harrington, who would miss the cut for the first time at Augusta National two days later. Harrington also won the next year, and went on to tie for 13th.

"I don't even know if five is going to win," Harrington said when he finished Wednesday. "Normally five is good enough, but it could take six today."

It probably would have. Jerry Pate was at 4 under with four holes left when the contest was halted, and Webb Simpson was at 4 under with a hole to go. Adam Scott also finished at 4 under.

At least Harrington, a three-time major winner, got to spend some quality time with his sons at the family-friendly event. Many players have their kids - or grandkids, in some cases - caddie for them, and Harrington had 8-year-old Patrick and 4-year-old Ciaran in tow Wednesday.

There were two holes-in-one during the Par 3. Mark Wilson made one on No. 4, and Thomas Bjorn had another on No. 9.

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SERGIO AILING: Sergio Garcia has another nagging injury, and the timing could not be worse. He has an infected nail in the middle finger of his left hand, which affects how strongly he grips the club.

"It's going to be uncomfortable," said Garcia, who wore a small bandage over the finger.

It's the same injury that Garcia dealt with last May when he had to withdraw from a British Open qualifier because of an infected nail. It was a low point for Garcia, until he narrowly got into the U.S. Open, then the British Open, and slowly worked his way back into the top 25 in the world ranking.

What that does for his chances at the Masters remained a mystery.

He is getting treatment, though his practice round did not leave him very optimistic.

"It felt worse today than it did yesterday, but hopefully it will be better tomorrow," he said. "I can play. I won't quit. Even if it's painful, this is a tournament that should be played."

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TIGER PUTTING: Luke Donald might be onto something.

Donald said he has practiced putting with a driver from just off the green, because the grass tends to be a little stickier in the afternoon and it helps put a little more pace on the shots.

Sure enough, Tiger Woods used his 3-wood on such shots during nine holes of practice Wednesday. He tossed down a few golf balls behind the 15th green, and putted with his fairway metal to the green. Woods then moved back about 10 more feet, and still used his 3-wood to putt toward the green.

Woods has used his 3-wood to putt before, though usually on shots pinched by thick collar around the greens at other tournaments.

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MASTERS INVITATIONS: The PGA Tour has approved a concept of going to a wraparound season - starting in October, concluding with the Tour Championship in September - in which the fall start to the season would add tournaments to its FedEx Cup.

One problem.

The Masters offers invitations for a win at every PGA Tour event that offers full FedEx Cup points. Now, there might be at least six additional tournaments that fall under category - and the Masters is not crazy about a large field.

The Masters had 97 players qualify this year.

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said there is not a set limit of how many players the Masters wants in its field, although "100 makes us a little uncomfortable."

Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters competition committee, said tournament officials are evaluating its qualifying criteria and keeping an eye on what the PGA Tour has in mind.

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NEW LOOK: Something is missing at the Masters this year.

The scoring shed, a small, green wooden building that stood for years between the ninth and 18th greens, is gone, leaving an unobstructed view of the 18th hole - as well as more seats for fans eager to stake out a spot for Sunday afternoon. Players will now sign their scorecards in a room on the first floor of the clubhouse.

But just like every other improvement at Augusta National, it's almost impossible to tell what was changed. A faint outline of discolored grass is the only hint the scoring shed ever existed.

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LIGHT WORK: Nick Watney did not come to Augusta National ahead of the Masters to practice. Even when he arrived this week, he only practiced on Monday and played nine holes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Watney is playing the Masters for the fifth straight time. He has never missed the cut, though his best was seventh place in 2010. He doesn't know what the right formula is, so he is willing to try this.

"I've played 54 holes," he said. "I've come in December. You can play a little or you can play a lot. But you're still going to put the ball in places during the tournament when making bogey is a good score."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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