McIlroy will not participate in Masters dog-and-pony show*
By Stephanie Wei under The Masters

Rory McIlroy is putting on his game face early for next week’s Masters, the first major of the year. He revealed that he will not participate in everyone’s favorite tradition, the Par-3 Contest. And we don’t blame him.

Via the Guardian:

Rory McIlroy has revealed he will skip the traditional par-three competition at the Masters this year, with the aim of summoning some of the spirit of 2011. That year he came within a Sunday back-nine of victory at Augusta National.

“It’s a bit of a distraction and the year I had my best chance at Augusta, 2011, I didn’t play the par-three contest,” McIlroy said. “So maybe the decision not to play it this year can work in my favor.”

I definitely get that. It sounds like it’s partly a superstitious thing, and then on the other hand, it’s gotten a bit out of control the last few years and turned into a real dog-and-pony show of who’s caddying for whom, whose wife is hottest and/or whose kids are cuter. And it does take up a huge portion of Wednesday afternoon, right before the first round of the Masters.

McIlroy hasn’t helped himself in that regard with his high-profile caddies. In 2014 he had his ex-fiancee, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki on his bag. Last year One Direction’s Niall Horan did the honors.

This isn’t a big deal and it’s only newsworthy because it’s a slow news day. Besides, there’s that whole thing with the guy who wins the Par-3 Contest has never gone on to win the actual tournament. I mean, why even risk it?!?

With McIlroy aiming to complete the career grand slam again, he feels there’s less hype around him than there was last year. He can thank Jason Day and Jordan Spieth for taking the spotlight away from him.

“I already feel a little more mellow and a lot more chilled compared to the all the hype around me a year ago,” McIlroy told the Guardian.

“You have the attention spread between Jordan [Spieth] going back to defend, 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 own back-to-back wins. 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.”

It’ll be nice for him to fly under the radar a bit.

*Par-3 Contest