Old-timers become thing of the past at Masters

By Associated PressApril 8, 2010, 2:50 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Scenes of 70-somethings trudging up and down the hills of Augusta National, sometimes using their clubs as canes and often struggling to break 90, is a Masters tradition no more.

Most of the old-timers have faded away, relegated to the par-3 tournament or ceremonial duties. They’ve been done in by a supersized course that’s just no fun to play for a senior citizen.

When the Masters begins Thursday, there will be four teenagers in the field — and only one golfer as old as 60. He happens to be the turn-back-the-clock player who almost won the British Open last year, Tom Watson.

Turns out, the guys in the green jackets came up with a gentle shove out the door that worked even better than a letter: 7,435 yards.

“This a young man’s golf course, by golly, since they added all the length to it,” said 58-year-old Fuzzy Zoeller, who called it quits after last year’s tournament. “I retired because I got to the point to where I didn’t feel like I was competitive. And if you’re not competitive, what the hell are you doing out there?”

Sixty-seven-year-old Raymond Floyd was the latest to step aside, announcing this week he’s had enough after 45 straight appearances. He didn’t even bother with a couple of farewell rounds—calling it quits right then and there.

“It was something that I toyed with pretty much all year as to whether I would play or not,” he said. “I didn’t want to go out and embarrass myself, or play the best I could and make a whole lot of putts so I could shoot in the 70s.”

This Masters will start with ceremonial tee shots by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, who combined for 10 green jackets and 95 Augusta appearances during their long, brilliant careers.

Nicklaus stopped playing five years ago at age 65, the age former Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson proposed as the cutoff for past champions to give up cherished exemptions that were supposed to last a lifetime.

Johnson even sent letters to three members who hadn’t been competitive in years—Gay Brewer, Billy Casper and Doug Ford—to revoke their playing privileges. That in turn sparked a backlash from the more prominent ex-champs, players such as Nicklaus, Palmer and Gary Player, and Augusta dropped the idea.

Palmer stopped playing anyway at age 75, slyly remarking that he didn’t want to “get a letter.” Nicklaus faded away the following year, and Player finally stepped aside last year at 73, closing his record 52-year run at the Masters with an 11-over-par 83.

“Everything shall pass,” he said Wednesday after playing in the par-3 tournament with Nicklaus and Palmer (and shooting 1-under on the mini-course, he was quick to point out).

Player insists that he won’t miss playing at Augusta.

“I had a great feast 52 times,” he said. “You win it three times, you finish second three times, you make the most cuts in a row. I’m just so grateful that I had the opportunity.”

Watson, who missed a chance to become the oldest major champion in golf history when he lost a playoff to Stewart Cink at Turnberry, is the oldest player in this year’s field, having turned 60 last September. A two-time Masters champion, he hasn’t made the cut at Augusta since 2002.

Ben Crenshaw is the oldest of the rest at 58. Seven other players have qualified for the senior circuit: Craig Stadler (56), Mark O’Meara (53), Ian Woosnam (52), Sandy Lyle (52), Bernhard Langer (52), Larry Mize (51) and Fred Couples (50).

“I’m playing pretty nicely the last year or so,” Lyle said. “I think I’ve got eight, nine more years in me.”

It’s hard to see anyone hanging around as long as Player on this course, which has been lengthened by 450 yards in the last decade. In all likelihood, the days when someone in their 60s could make the cut—Tommy Aaron was 63 when he became the oldest player to contend on the weekend—are pretty much over.

No one wants to put themselves through what Billy Casper did in 2005.

After sitting out three years, he returned for a farewell appearance. Seventy-three and barely able to make it around the course, he quit after shooting 106 in the opening round, which would have been the highest score in Masters history if he had bothered to turn in his scorecard.

Ford played at Augusta until he was 78, but dropped out after the opening round three straight years. He packed away his clubs after just one hole the last time he went out. Still, he was angry when Johnson tried to cast him aside, going so far as to boycott the champions dinner one year.

But Ford got over his bitterness, and current Augusta National champion Billy Payne stressed that it’s up to each individual golfer to decide when enough’s enough.

“We want them to continue as long as they feel they can be competitive,” Payne said. “And just remember that the younger guys now are going to be older guys at some point. So we are always going to have our share of those.”

Getty Images

What's in the bag: API winner McIlroy

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:59 pm

Rory McIlroy closed in 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's a look inside the winners' bag.

Driver: TaylorMade M3 (8.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 70X shaft

Fairway woods: TaylorMade M3 (15 degrees) with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80TX, (19 degrees) with Fujikura Rombax P95X shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4), P-730 RORS prototype (5-9), with Project X 7.0 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (48, 52, 56 degrees), Hi-Toe(60 degrees), with Project X Rifle 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade TP Black Copper Soto prototype

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

API purse payout: What Rory, Tiger, field made

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:08 pm

Rory McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and collected one of the biggest non-major paychecks of the year. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Bay Hill.

1 Rory McIlroy -18 $1,602,000
2 Bryson DeChambeau -15 $961,200
3 Justin Rose -14 $605,200
4 Henrik Stenson -13 $427,200
T5 Tiger Woods -10 $356,000
T5 Ryan Moore -10 $320,400
T7 Marc Leishman -8 $249,992
T7 Kevin Chappell -8 $249,992
T7 Luke List -8 $249,992
T7 Sean O'Hair -8 $249,992
T7 Patrick Rodgers -8 $249,992
T7 Patrick Reed -8 $249,992
13 Chris Kirk -7 $186,900
T14 Kyle Stanley -6 $137,950
T14 Charles Howell III -6 $137,950
T14 Sam Horsfield -6 $137,950
T14 Bud Cauley -6 $137,950
T14 Grayson Murray -6 $137,950
T14 Byeong Hun An -6 $137,950
T14 Rickie Fowler -6 $137,950
T14 Charley Hoffman -6 $137,950
T22 Brian Gay -5 $89,000
T22 Harris English -5 $89,000
T22 Jason Day -5 $89,000
T22 Graeme McDowell -5 $89,000
T26 Tom Hoge -4 $59,319
T26 Martin Laird -4 $59,319
T26 Emiliano Grillo -4 $59,319
T26 Tommy Fleetwood -4 $59,319
T26 Francesco Molinari -4 $59,319
T26 Keegan Bradley -4 $59,319
T26 Zach Johnson -4 $59,319
T26 William McGirt -4 $59,319
T26 John Huh -4 $59,319
T26 Talor Gooch -4 $59,319
T36 Alex Noren -3 $41,919
T36 Kevin Na -3 $41,919
T36 Brandon Harkins -3 $41,919
T36 Brian Stuard -3 $41,919
T36 Austin Cook -3 $41,919
T41 Ian Poulter -2 $30,305
T41 C.T. Pan -2 $30,305
T41 Adam Scott -2 $30,305
T41 Aaron Wise -2 $30,305
T41 Kevin Streelman -2 $30,305
T41 J.B. Holmes -2 $30,305
T41 Jamie Lovemark -2 $30,305
T41 Ollie Schniederjans -2 $30,305
T49 Lucas Glover -1 $21,965
T49 Ernie Els -1 $21,965
T49 Hideki Matsuyama -1 $21,965
T49 Chesson Hadley -1 $21,965
T49 Sam Burns -1 $21,965
T54 Li HaoTong E $20,470
T54 Mackenzie Hughes E $20,470
T54 Brian Harman E $20,470
T54 Billy Horschel E $20,114
Getty Images

After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

Getty Images

Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.