April 9, 2009
AUGUSTA---Augusta National is no easy golf course. That's why knowing it well is one of the keys to success. And who would know it better than former champions?
"It helps to have the local knowledge," said 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize. "You've played here and you have positive rounds and have obviously won the Tournament to draw back on, and that's always a good thing."
At 50 years old, Larry Mize is one of eight former Masters champions who are under par. Yes, one of them is Tiger Woods but another is 51-year-old Bernhard Langer.
"We're not in the British Open. We're not in the U.S. Open. We're not in the PGA," said Langer, a two-time champion. "Because here, as a past champion, you can play for the rest of your life. There's a lot of us who are a little bit older and we get the chance to play and we can still show the skills we have."
Not only can they play, but they are familiar with the course, which goes a long way even when your drive doesn't.
"You know, it's good. I think the experience helps," said 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir. "Guys like Larry have been here a long time. I've been here ten years. Guys have been here a lot longer than I have. You just get a sense of just how to play the golf course and what pins to aim at and what not to, and what to do. And if you're on your game, you can score."
So whether it's 73-year-old Gary Player or 29-year-old Trevor Immelman, never count out a former champ.
"Well, it's always the same. It never changes," said Langer. "The secret is to hit good golf shots and make good putts. Knowing the course helps and knowing where to go and where not to go. And then you have to pull it off."