Score one for the old guys.
While younger golfers like Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner and Graeme McDowell are heading home for the weekend, a handful of fifty-something former Masters champions made the cut at Augusta National on Friday.
Fred Couples, the 1992 champion, is making the most noise at -2 through two rounds. But while Couples has been a four-round mainstay for the past five years, the three others haven't seen the weekend as frequently. Larry Mize ('87 champion, +2) wasn't around for the weekend 11 of the last 13 years. Bernhard Langer ('85, '93, +2) missed seven straight cuts before tying for 25th last year. Sandy Lyle ('88, +4) missed three of four cuts at Augusta coming into this tournament.
Throw in 51-year-old Vijay Singh, the 2000 champion, at +2 and we've got a full-blown nostalgia party.
It remains to be seen if any of the men will use their opportunity to make some noise and try to pass Jack Nicklaus as the oldest Masters champion — he was 46 in 1986 — by almost a decade. Langer and Lyle are 56 while Mize is 55 and Couples is 54.
One thing, however, is certain. The 50-somethings at the Masters aren't just using their lifetime exemptions into the field as a mere excuse to get out on a beautiful course for two nice days. Nor are they solely there to remind patrons of famous shots gone by (though it's still a rush to watch highlights of Larry Mize's playoff chip or Sandy Lyle standing in the bunker on 18, isn't it?).
No, what they're doing is giving Langer some ammo for his continued insistence that we'll see a major winner in his 50s sooner rather than later. Tom Watson made up plenty of minds on that front by almost taking the 2009 British Open at age 59, but golf still needs someone to knock down the door.
Maybe it'll be someone from this group. Maybe it'll come in a few years from someone like Miguel Angel Jimenez (who just turned 50 in January) or two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal (who's currently 48). Maybe we'll have to wait for the group that's currently in their mid-40s (Phil Mickelson is 43 while Ernie Els and Angel Cabrera are 44) to get old enough to do it.
"I think it's possible," Langer said of a winner in his 50s at the 2013 Masters. "I always thought that Freddie, with his length, can win it, because he hits it a good 30 yards by me, which helps a great deal on some of these holes. For me to win, everything has to go my way."
But even though older golfers may benefit from better workout routines and equipment, they still have to contend with the toll that 72 holes of high-stakes golf takes on anyone's mind and body, regardless of age.
"It's just hard [to play well] every round for me," Couples said at the 2013 Masters after falling out of contention with a third-round 77 (via Golf Digest) "I'm not going to lie to you: a 2:40 tee time, it's not easy. By the end of the day, I'm exhausted. I just wasn't quite as sharp. But that 's what happens when you play well. You're going to [tee] off late. I'll take a 2:45 tee time next year too and try my luck at it."
Couples will get to try his luck again on Saturday in the 2014 Masters, an opportunity that a lot of other professional golfers half his age weren't able to earn for themselves at Augusta the last two days.
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