This Masters is an emotional farewell for Augusta native Mize

Larry Mize has decided this will be his last Masters. It's an emotional farewell for the golfing great.
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 6:00 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We reported earlier this week that Larry Mize and Sandy Lyle announced this will be their last Masters.

Mize is a local – the first Augusta native to win the Masters back in 1987 when he holed a 140-foot chip from right of the 11th green in the second hole of a playoff to beat Greg Norman in 1987.

The next year, Lyle hit 7-iron from the fairway bunker on the 18th hole to 10 feet and made the birdie putt to win.

“As they were in 1988, when Larry presented the green jacket to Sandy, they are connected again this week,” Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said. “We commend them for their fine play over four decades and for representing the Masters so well. Rest assured, their victories will forever be remembered.”

This is Mize’s 40th consecutive Masters, while Lyle was part of the “Big Five” from Europe who once seemingly ruled the Masters. Lyle, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo combined to win nine times between 1980 and 1996, including a stretch of seven wins in 12 years.

The news was shared at the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night.

“Larry got a little emotional,” two-time champion Jose Maria Olazabal said. “He had a hard time trying to speak. Actually, he didn’t. It was a very emotional dinner. So it was nice.”

Mize reflected on his departure during a brief interview after he finished the first round of the 2023 Masters on Thursday.

Here are some of the questions and answers:

Q. Did the emotions have any effect on today?

LARRY MIZE: Yeah, I was nervous pretty much the whole day. I mean, just the last –

Q. More so than years past?

LARRY MIZE: Oh, yeah. Last time I played, I haven’t played in a tournament in a while. Last time I played, I hadn’t played in a tournament in a while. My game is not where I’d like it to be obviously. Yeah, it just causes the nerves to be a little worse. You’re struggling a little bit to hit the shots you want to hit.

Q. A lot of people said at the Champions Dinner they hadn’t seen you as emotional.

LARRY MIZE: Let’s don’t go down that road. This place is just very special to me. To have played here and won here and to be in that room with those guys is very special, and I just couldn’t keep it together, yeah.

Q. When did you make the decision that this was going to be it?

LARRY MIZE: You know, when I came here last year, I knew it was going to be last year or this year. I just – I guess after I played last year, I came up with the decision that this will be my last.

Q. Bonnie and the boys are saying OK?

LARRY MIZE: Yeah, they’re behind me. Obviously – you know, they’re behind me 100 percent. I asked them what they think, and they’re no help at all. Whatever you want to do. No, they’re very supportive. I’m very blessed to have a great family. They said whatever I want to do. I feel I’ve got a lot of peace. This is definitely the right time. It’s time for me to end my playing career here. But I’ll look forward to coming back every year.

Q. Par 3?

LARRY MIZE: As long as they let the past champions play, I’ll play the Par 3, Champions Dinner, and just enjoy being here. Still soaking up this environment. As far as golf goes, this is it for me.

Q. It’s still a competition, but are you able to get out there and enjoy it or soak it in a bit more?

LARRY MIZE: I always enjoy playing here. Obviously it’s playing very hard for me. Yeah, I always enjoy it. The fans are just phenomenal. They’re so kind to me. Some nice comments out there. It was fun. Tomorrow will be – kind of be a tough day. I don’t know what to expect tomorrow. I don’t know where the emotions will be, but it will be a special – it will be a lot of fun.

Q. What is it in particular you enjoy about the golf here?

LARRY MIZE: As a competitor, you just love getting out there. It’s a challenge to get around this golf course at my age, and I enjoy that. I enjoy the challenge of trying to work it around and put it in spots I know I need to put it and get it up and down and take advantage of the holes I can – the shorter holes, the par-5s and par-3s on 6 and 16 and 12, where I can take advantage of them.

You know, the competitor in you just loves to get out there and compete. I just wish I could compete a little better.

Q. Have you had any special interactions with guys in the field this week since you made the announcement this is going to be your last one?

LARRY MIZE: The guys have been great, from guys in the field to guys that are here, working the broadcast and so forth, and my friends on TOUR. Everybody has been unbelievable. It’s been very special.

Q. Did Ben tell you before that he was going to recognize you?

LARRY MIZE: I got a call from Jim – Jim James, isn’t it? He called me to warn me that it was going to happen. I felt pretty good. I knew it was going to be tough, and I felt pretty good until the time came. Standing in front of all those guys and being in that room, just I couldn’t get it out. That’s how special it is. To be there for – well, here for 40 years, but to be in that Champions Dinner for 35 or whatever it is, it’s a special night. It’s an amazing group of champions, and to be part of that is surreal, yeah.