AUGUSTA — One of the Masters’ charms — or misplaced priorities, depending on your perspective — is the tournament’s tradition of inviting back past champions, no matter their age or level of play or, frankly, whether they ever should be seen holding a golf club in public ever again.
I used to have a problem with this. You can only watch so many rounds of 85 before the warm-and-fuzziness of the tradition starts to wear off. But now I think it’s kind of cool because, well, it’s a four-day event and it’s not like anybody has to scream on Saturday or Sunday, “Get out of my way, old man!”
There are nine players in this week’s Masters over the age of 50, including 60-year-old Mark O’Meara. There are 11 players whose only qualification is having won the tournament: Angel Cabrera, Fred Couples, Trevor Immelman, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, O’Meara, Larry Mize, Jose Maria Olazabal, Vijay Singh, Mike Weir and Ian Woosnam. Tom Watson finally decided to bow out after last year at the age of 67 but several others still come back.
Here are the six oldest, including the official Las Vegas odds of them winning the tournament. (Save your money.)
• Mark O’Meara (60): He won a green jacket in 1998 and finished eighth in 2003. But he has missed nine of the last 10 cuts, shooting a 13-over-157 last year. I think I took him as my last pick of a pre-Masters fantasy draft a few years ago. Big mistake. Official odds: 2500-1.
• Berhnard Langer (59): He turns 60 in August, but he’s in better shape and has more hair on his head than most guys in their 40s. So I hate him. He’s easily the most competitive of the old guys. He has made the cut three of the last four years. His Masters’ win came in 1993 but he has had six top 10 finishes since, including a tie for eighth in 2014. Official odds: 300-1
• Sandy Lyle (59): He won the Masters in 1988, which also was his last PGA Tour win. In the last 22 years, he has missed 14 cuts and had finishes of 34th, 48th, 37th, 43rd, 45th, 20th (the high-water mark in 2009), 54th and 44th. He has shot eight rounds of 80-plus since 2006 and was 20-over in his two rounds in 2012. Official odds: 2500-1.
• Ian Woosnam (59): He won the Masters in 1991, his last PGA Tour win. He has missed eight straight cuts and 15 of the last 17 (squeezing out 40th and 44th place finishes in that stretch). His two rounds last year: 82-81, 19-over. Woosnam announced last year he was retiring from competitive play but he obviously wasn’t including the Masters in that. Official odds: 1000-1.
• Larry Mize (58): He has missed 12 of the last 16 cuts. He actually made it past Friday two of the last three years, but finished 51st and 52nd. Official odds: 2500-1.
• Fred Couples (57): He’s a great late-round Masters draft pick because he almost always makes the cut — well, except for last year — and he has six top-15 finishes (with six rounds in the 60s) since 2006. Couples won his Masters in 1992 but he finished third in 2006 and sixth as recently as 2010. Draft pool gold. Official odds: 250-1.
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