AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bernhard Langer spent more than seven hours walking 26 holes across a soggy Augusta National that made it feel even longer. His 63-year-old knees were aching. He was happy to be done.
Except that he’s not done.
Langer, a two-time Masters champion and ageless wonder, gets to play two more rounds.
Despite hitting metal clubs into holes where some players are hitting short irons, Langer finished his opening round Friday morning with a 68 and the German held his own in the afternoon with a 73.
While the cut won’t be official until the second round is completed Saturday morning, this was one for the record books. He became the oldest player to make the 36-hole cut at the Masters, topping the record by Tommy Aaron in 2000 by 33 days.
“How about that?” Langer said. “I’ll drink to that.”
He could certainly carve out time for that.
“My wife just said, ‘You’re not going to hit balls, are you?’ I said, ‘No. No chance. I’m done.’ This is one of the hilliest courses we play, and when it’s wet, it’s even a harder walk,” Langer said.
That the record now belongs to Langer should be no surprise. Tiger Woods constantly cites Langer and Fred Couples as examples of Masters champions who can find their way around the course and post good scores. It was only six years ago when Langer, at age 57, tied for eighth.
When golf returned from the pandemic in June, Langer teed it up twice on the PGA Tour because the 50-and-older PGA Tour Champions had not resumed. He made the cut in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head.
On the PGA Tour Champions, where players in their early 50s tend to dominate, he already has won this year — his 41st career victory among seniors — and is leading the Charles Schwab Cup, which he already has won five times.
Returning to Augusta National must make him feel young again — or not.
“No, it actually makes me feel older when I play with these young guys and I see how far they hit it and how short I hit it,” Langer said. “I like this golf course. I think I know how to get around it, even though I hit very long clubs. But it’s certainly not easy.”
Now he gets two more days, and who knows how many more years? Masters champion get a lifetime exemption. Langer still decided to check on the policy on Tuesday night during the Masters Club dinner for past champions.
“I wasn’t sure if there was an unwritten rule for an age limit for past champions to play in the Masters, so I did ask the question of Chairman Fred Ridley,” he said earlier this week. “I am 63 and I am the oldest player in the field this year. He said that as long as we can stand upright and play golf, we are welcome to play, and that we will all know when the time is right to stop playing.”
It’s certainly not now.
Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press