Peter Malnati Masters 2024 rookie diary: Winning crystal at the Par 3 Contest on the best ‘golf day of the year’

Editor’s Note: Peter Malnati qualified for his first Masters by winning the Valspar Championship last month. The 36-year-old veteran hadn’t won in nearly nine years on the PGA Tour. He’s sharing a first-person account of his experience daily only at

AUGUSTA,  Ga. — Webb Simpson, who is someone that I really look up to and have become close with, calls Wednesday at the Masters his favorite golf day of the year without a close second and I can totally see why.

The family involvement at the annual Par 3 Contest is really cool. My two sons, Hatcher, the eldest, and Dash were both suited up in their little caddie bibs. Hatcher had a little green bag and clubs. Dash was picking up golf balls. It’s a pretty cool site to see your 4-year-old hitting balls in the tournament practice area at Augusta National.

Parenthood is a labor of love and as much fun as I had, I’d chalk up the Par 3 Contest as a laborious nine holes chasing around my kids and trying to keep up.

The Par-3 course was set up with a bunch of funnel pins. I think five of my nine shots felt like they had a chance to go in at one point. I hit to kick in range four times, made one long putt, hit one wedge that looked like it was going to spin into the hole. I’m counting five birdies – I’m giving myself birdie at the last hole despite my wife, Alicia, missing the putt. But I hit it in there pretty close. She’s good at a lot of things so I will let it slide. I kid. She’s the rock and the reason we are able to do everything we do so she’s forgiven for missing a 2 footer. In her defense, it did break sharply from left to right. I could’ve left her a straighter putt.

We played with a couple of other Masters rookies in Adam Schenk and Stephan Jaeger. They are both parents, too, but don’t have the 4½-year-old like we do but they have younger kids in the 1-1½ range so it was similar family dynamics at play.

One last cool thing about the Par 3 Contest: My shot at the second hole to 16 inches held on as the closest of the day, which means I get a crystal trophy that will make for a cool souvenir.

Peter Malnati lifts his wife Alicia on the No. 9 tee during the Par 3 Contest at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Network

Prior to the Par 3 Contest, I did a morning workout and was one of the first players out on the front nine.

Do I know all the nuances of Augusta National? Have I seen it in different conditions and directions? Of course not. But I feel like I have a pretty good map of the course in my mind. I have a pretty good idea of where the hole locations are just from historical information. I did a lot of the practice around the greens and on the greens to different locations. I have a good sense of the strategy I want to use after my prep work. But I think none of it is going to come down to whether or not I have the right information to form the right plan. It’s just going to come down to execution. That’s the question every week and I do feel ready to do that too.

I guess there’s inclement weather in the forecast for Thursday that could throw a wrench in the starting times. We’ll have to see how that affects the course and the way it plays and what time we get to play and all that. Regardless. I’ll be ready for it and I’m thankful we got here early. I got to play all 18 holes on Sunday. I definitely feel like we’ve been here a full tournament week already. I’m ready to get the action started. I think I did a relatively good job of pacing my prep work. I don’t feel like I’ve overdone it. From an energy standpoint, I should be ready to go.

Whatever time it is when I get to peg it on the first tee on Thursday, I’m sure I will feel some nerves. I’ve felt those nerves at just about every PGA Tour event I’ve played and I don’t think tomorrow will be any different. Maybe it will be a little more intense in terms of the nerves but whatever I feel, I’ve done the work, I have the support system around me, and I’m ready for it. I’m excited to get this started.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek