Bernhard Langer leads a contingent of senior golfers who show the young guns how it’s done at the Masters each year
Bernhard Langer Ready For 34th Masters
Bernhard Langer did it again at last year’s US Masters. It has become an annual defiance of age, a denial of logic. Aged 58 last April at Augusta National, Langer finished in a tie for 24th to post his third top-25 finish in the Masters over the past four years.
And that was after a final round of 79 saw the German make a late slide. He began Masters Sunday in a tie for third place with Hideki Matsuyama, just two shots off Jordan Spieth’s third-round lead. By the way, Spieth was born three months after Langer won his second Green Jacket in 1993.
In considering his return to Augusta this year, Langer tells Golf Monthly: “One advantage I have at Augusta is that I have played hundreds of rounds there. I have a lot more experience that the young guys. But a definite disadvantage is my shot distance. I am on average 20 to 40 yards shorter than some of these young guys off the tee, which then means I have to hit a lot of hybrids and 3-irons into the par-4 greens, whereas the younger guys are hitting four or five clubs less.”
When Langer shot 70 in the third-round last year, his playing partner was world-number-one at the time, Jason Day.
“That was just so impressive to watch,” said Australia’s Day, 29, after their round, having shot 71 to Langer’s 70. “When you consider some of the positions he was playing from compared to me, it was unbelievable. Bernhard could be at least 60, maybe 80 yards behind me.”
If it’s not Langer leading the over-50s contingent at the Masters, it’s usually American Fred Couples, who posted a string of five top-20 finishes in the Masters between 2010 and 2014. Aged 57 coming into the 2017 chapter at Augusta, Couples was the Masters champion in 1992, and from the 2017 field, no golfer has made the cut at the Masters as many times as Couples (28 in 31 appearances) or played as many Masters rounds (118).
With Tom Watson having retired from the Masters last year (after 43 appearances, 24 cuts made and two wins) the most senior veteran in the 2017 field will be American Mark O’Meara, the champion in 1998, who turned 60 in January. Scotland’s Sandy Lyle, aged 59 and the champ in 1988, leads the field in appearances with 35; while 58-year-old Larry Mize, the Augusta native who worked on Masters scoreboards as a teenager before winning the Green Jacket in 1987, will match Langer in making his 34th Masters appearance this year.
Lyle and O’Meara both made their Masters debuts in 1980 and no other player in the 2017 field has a Masters record reaching so far back. Langer is next in line, having become the first German to play in the Masters 35 years ago in 1982, aged 24. Couples followed in 1983 and Mize in 1984.