PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy to skip Masters Par 3 Contest to avoid distraction

Niall Horan, of the band One Direction, and Rory McIlroy at the 2015 Masters Par 3 Contest
Niall Horan, of the band One Direction, and Rory McIlroy at the 2015 Masters Par 3 Contest ( Getty Images )

Monday, March 28, 2016

Many big names will likely compete in the Masters Par 3 Contest this year, but one star will be noticeably missing.

Rory McIlroy announced Monday that he will not participate in the 2016 edition of the Par 3 Contest, scheduled for next Wednesday. The decision was reported by several U.K. news sources. The World No. 3 was unequivocal in his reasoning for his absence.

"It's just too much hassle and it's a bit of a distraction," McIlroy said.

That distraction was likely aided by McIlroy's penchant for high-profile Par 3 caddies. In 2014, he put tennis star (and then-fiancee) Caroline Wozniacki on the bag. Last year, One Direction's Niall Horan served as McIlroy's caddie.

This also isn't the first time a major player has skipped out on the Wednesday event. Tiger Woods opted out of it for an entire decade, from 2004-2013. After missing the Masters in 2014, Woods resumed play in the Par 3 Contest in 2015.

McIlroy, competing in his eighth Masters, had only once previously eschewed the Par 3 Contest. But that single absence was in 2011, arguably the Northern Irishman's best showing at Augusta National. The four-time major champion only finished T-15 that week (compared to a T-8 and a fourth the last two years) but he held a four-shot 54-hole lead on that occasion.

"The year I had my best chance at Augusta, 2011, I didn't play the Par 3 Contest," McIlroy said. "So maybe the decision not to play it this year can work in my favor."

The 26-year-old, who has four top-10s but no wins in 2016, plans to play a practice round that Wednesday morning instead. He said he looks to arrive at Augusta on Sunday night, and intimated that his game is in pretty good shape.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion, has captured every major title – except the Masters. He will complete the career grand slam if he can take home the green jacket next week. But, especially with the Par 3 Contest out of the way, it seems McIlroy feels a lack of focus on his exploits this year could be a key advantage for him at the Masters.

"This year you have the attention spread between Jordan (Spieth) going back to defend and Jason (Day) winning for a second week in a row and also there's Adam (Scott) who has won at Augusta before and is coming off his back-to-back wins," McIlroy said. "So there's a lot more going on around others competing in the Masters this year already than the spotlight I found myself in a year ago."

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