Masters Notebook

Wyndham Clark experiences Masters Par-3 Contest for first time, but won’t have to worry about winner’s curse; Kent Denver grad and former Masters contestant Kevin Stadler among Wednesday ‘patrons’

By Gary Baines – 4/10/2024

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Denver native Wyndham Clark seemed to be tempting fate by playing in the Masters Par-3 Contest on Wednesday at Augusta National Golf Club.

But, as it turned out, no he wasn’t.

You see, the winner of the Par-3 Contest has never gone on to subsequently claim the title at that week’s Masters tournament. And Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion and a three-time winner on the PGA Tour in the last year, certainly has designs on earning a green jacket come Sunday.

And though the Valor Christian grad chose to enter the Par-3 Contest — which many Masters contestants skip — he was not exactly grinding to win the easygoing, family-friend affair. Far from it, in fact. 

Clark had his girlfriend/Par-3 caddie, Alicia Bogdanski, putt for him on several occasions over the nine holes. Another time, he putted with his sand wedge, playing a bit of hockey around the hole as his ball was reluctant to fall into the cup. Another hole, team Clark/Bogdanski did not finish at all.

But along the way, Clark had the pleasure of sharing a few words on the sixth tee box with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a St. Mary’s Academy and University of Denver graduate who’s now a member at Augusta National. 

Clark was paired in the Par-3 Contest with Brooks Koepka and Max Homa, who brought their wives and babies with them — to the delight of the fans.

Golf-wise, the bottom line was that, like the majority of Wednesday’s Par-3 contestants, Clark didn’t record a score. He birdied the first hole from about 12 feet on his own. And Bogdanski capitalized on a couple of good Clark tee shot to convert birdie putts. That included on the closing ninth hole, where she sank an 8-footer, with Clark raising his arms in celebration behind her.

So the 2023 U.S. Open champ doesn’t have to worry about the Par-3 Contest Curse — Rickie Fowler won on Wednesday with a 5-under-par total. Still potentially in play for Clark is the other curse — the one about golfers making their Masters debut having not won the tournament since 1979. 

Clark and Bogdanski were paired in the Par-3 Contest with Max Homa (left) and Brooks Koepka (right), along with their families.

All in all, Clark departed the Par-3 premises signaling a thumbs-up, with a big smile on his face.

Now he only hopes he’s enjoying himself as much when the Masters concludes on Sunday.

For the record, five holes-in-one were recorded during Wednesday’s Par-3 Contest — one each by Luke List, Sepp Straka, Viktor Hovland, Gary Woodland and Lucas Glover.

Clark (left) chats with fellow Colorado high school product Kevin Stadler during Wednesday’s practice round.

A Familiar Face: Colorado high schools haven’t produced many golfers who have gone on to win on the PGA Tour, but two of them exchanged pleasantries behind the 14th green at Augusta National Golf Club on Wednesday. 

Kevin Stadler, a graduate of Kent Denver who won the 2014 Phoenix Open and played in the Masters in 2014 and ’15 (finishing eighth in the former) was taking in the action. And he caught the attention of Clark, a Valor Christian grad and three-time PGA Tour champion, who is making his Masters debut this week.

Both Stadler and Clark have won state amateur titles in Colorado — Stadler two CGA Match Plays and Clark one CGA Amateur — and both have Colorado boys state high school championships to their credit (two for Clark). And Stadler, son of 1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler, won a Colorado Open.

Former Evergreen resident Craig Stadler (second row, far right) partook in the Masters Champions Dinner on Tuesday night, as he has for more than 40 years. (Photo: Chris Turvey)

Notable: The aforementioned Craig Stadler, a former longtime Evergreen resident, attended the Champions Dinner Tuesday night at Augusta National — something he’s done with regularity since 1983, the year after he won the Masters. The Champions Dinner at the Masters dates back to 1952, when it was hosted by Ben Hogan. Two-time Masters champ Ben Crenshaw now serves as host. … Showers are expected to plague Thursday’s opening round of the Masters, particularly in the morning. Then it’s expected to be windy Thursday afternoon and evening. … Clark — paired with Hovland and Cameron Smith — is scheduled to tee off at 8:54 a.m. on Thursday and noon on Friday (MT). … Clark and his caddie, John Ellis, both took a stab at a longtime practice-round tradition at Augusta National — trying to skip a ball on the lake at 16 and onto the green at the par-3. But both fell a bit short of the mark on Wednesday. … Longtime Colorado PGA professional Doug Wherry, who recently sold his Denver-area-based Jake’s Academy, was in attendance at Augusta National on Wednesday. Wherry recently moved to Pinehurst, N.C.

More photos from Augusta National on Wednesday:

Clark with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the Par-3 Contest.

Clark and his caddie, John Ellis, walking over the bridge to the 12th green on Wednesday.

Clark tries — unsuccessfully — to skip it onto the green at the par-3 16th during Wednesday’s practice round.

It’s certainly been a while since Denver has been listed as a hometown of a Masters competitor.

Clark — and many other Par-3 Contest competitors — were favorites of autograph seekers on Wednesday.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. The University of Colorado Evans Scholar alum was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates