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  • Alistair Tait

Masters musings

Two days into this year’s Masters and it’s arguably providing more talking points than any previous Masters. In the manner of former colleague Jeff Rude’s Spraying it off the tee columns, here are some random Masters musings with two rounds to go.

Hail Herr Langer

Hard not to continue to have the utmost respect for Bernhard Langer. If ever there was a player on whom young players should model their career, it’s the 63-year-old German. Yes, 63. Well, 63 years, two months and 18 days to be precise. That’s important because it makes him the oldest player to make the cut in Masters’ history. Tommy Aaron was 63 years, one month and 12 days when he made the 2000 cut.

“It's not easy to do it,” Langer said. “There have been so many great players here before me, from Jack Nicklaus to Gary Player to all the greats that have competed here, and to be the oldest to make the cut, it's certainly an achievement.
“Hopefully I get to play a few more years and enjoy this place.”

Bet on that. Langer is fitter than many 43 year olds never mind 63 year olds. He’s kept himself in great shape when many others have let Father Time catch up with them. The two-time green jacket winner must have a picture of himself up in his attic. Face it, he could still play the regular European Tour and contend. Why would he do that though when he’s making a killing on the Champions Tour?

Obviously every feel-good story has to have a wee glitch – er, about that broom handle putter, Bernhard……

Bryson needs to ditch the bombast

Bryson DeChambeau might want to rethink his pre-tournament press conferences in light of his first 30 holes. He’s 1-over par as I write with six holes left to complete of his second round. The cut is currently level. So much for Bryson bombing his way to a green jacket.

Actually, Bryson is currently 11 over par considering he suggested 67 was a realistic par for Augusta National. Oh dear! Talk about making yourself a hostage to fortune.

Reminds me of the time Stephen Ames trashed Tiger Woods before a WGC-Match Play encounter. Tiger’s 9&8 victory taught the Canadian a valuable lesson about shooting his mouth off. Bryson also needs to learn not to set himself up for an inevitable fall.

Admit it, though, isn’t a wee part of you happy to see him get his comeuppance over the first 30 holes? How do you spell schadenfreude?

Is the distance debate over…

…now that Bryson hasn’t overpowered the golf course? Much was made in the first round about Larry Mize shooting the same score as DeChambeau despite giving him an 87 yard start off the tee. Mize averaged 247.4 in round one versus DeChambeau’s 334.6.

The distance deniers would like to think end of discussion, while the rollback alliance was probably wishing DeChambeau had bombed and gouged his way to consecutive 62s.

There’s more to come on this issue despite DeChambeau’s less than impressive start. Augusta chairman Fred Ridley’s “the game is at a crossroads quote” was telling. We await the Distance Insights Project announcement from the R&A and USGA next year with even more anticipation following Ridley’s press conference.

Is Rory too far back?

Great fightback by Rory McIlroy to follow a 75 with a 66 to get on the correct side of par. Is it too much to make up over the final two rounds? Let’s hope not, but Rory didn’t help his chances of a career grand slam. Hopefully one year Rory figures out how to play Augusta well for four straight days.

Feeling for Francesco

You have to feel for Francesco Molinari. The Italian won’t play the final two rounds after scores of 72 and 78. After what happened last year, don’t you just wish he’d come back and won? Let’s hope the 2019 Masters doesn’t have an enduring effect on one of the good guys of European golf.

No criticism allowed?

Do TV announcers take a spoonful of sugar before they go on air to commentate on the Masters? They must do because I’ve yet to hear one wee criticism of Augusta National. The old adage says every great work of art has one wee flaw but not Augusta National or the Masters. Not as far as the team at Sky Sports is concerned. Great team but Hans Christian Andersen must write their scripts. Come on, there must be one negative you can find to say about Augusta National and the Masters. Or is that not in the contract?

No library visits welcome

Loving seeing players hitting putts without making a trip to the library to garner info from those infernal green reading books we see week in week out. Maybe that’s why DeChambeau’s struggled the first 30 holes. Beefed up Bryson can’t seem to address a putt without a two-minute perusal of his green reading book. Well done Augusta National for banning them. I wish the PGA and European Tours would follow suit. Yet we’re still seeing players take nearly two minutes on 10-15 foot putts. The R&A and USGA clearly didn’t have Augusta’s roller coaster greens in mind when they drafted the 40-second recommendation for taking shots.

What chance a rookie winner?

It’s been 41 years since Fuzzy Zoeller became the third Masters champion to win on his debut. Horton Smith was the first in the inaugural 1934 Masters. Gene Sarazen skipped 1934 but won in 1935. Then Zoeller in 1979. There are 26 debutantes in this year’s field, and a few of them are in contention after two days. Can Abraham Ancer, Sunjae Im, C.T. Pan, Sebastian Munoz or Jazz Janewattanond break a 41-year-old curse?

#JustSaying: “Playing Augusta National is like playing a Salvador Dali landscape. I expected a clock to fall out of the trees and hit me in the face.” David Feherty

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