Bernhard Langer, oldest player to make cut at Masters, keeps it going on Saturday

Bernhard Langer knows a thing or two about Augusta National.

He should, since this week marks his 37th appearance in the tournament. He’s won twice, notched nine top 10 finishes and missed the cut just 10 times.

Despite all those trips around the famed course over nearly 40 years, Langer said what those who return to Augusta year-after-year already know.

“That’s what every pro wants to be in the majors, to have a chance to win the majors, and to come back to this place is especially nice because it’s always the same place, same tradition,” Langer said. “We’re not moving around golf courses and venues. What they’ve created here is pretty amazing. They continue to make the tournament better and better, and my hat’s off to their foresight and all the wonderful things they have done in the past and will continue to do for the tournament but also for the game to grow worldwide.”

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The 63-year-old rode rounds of 68 and 73 to become the oldest player to make the cut in the Masters Tournament. The 1985 and 1993 Masters winner surpassed former record holder Tommy Aaron by just over a month. Langer did it at 63 years, 2 months, 18 days old while Aaron was 63 years, 1 month, 16 days in 2000.

His appearance in the November Masters field this week adds another footnote to Langer’s illustrious professional career: competing with players born 100 years apart.

In his Open Championship debut in 1976, Langer played with Gene Sarazen who was born in 1902. This week, he played with 18-year-old amateur Abel Gallegos, born in 2002, who missed the cut.

Bernhard Langer plays his shot from the third tee during the second round of the 2020 Masters Tournament at Augusta National. (Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)

On Saturday, Langer added a third round 73 to his score, keeping him under par — 2 under — through 54 holes. Langer carded back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5 and again on 10 and 11, but totaled three birdies throughout his round to sit at 1 over on the day. He also produced one of the highlights of the day with a 63-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole.

Playing long

The most difficult aspect of this year’s November Masters for the two-time European Tour Player of the Year isn’t that it’s held in the middle of a pandemic or the lack of fans. It’s been the length of the course.

“Yeah, I hoped to make the cut, but it’s getting longer and longer, let’s put it that way, especially this year,” Langer said.I don’t think the course has ever played this long.  It was really wet, and I don’t remember hitting 3 woods into so many par 4s and hybrids.

“Yeah, hopefully in April it will be a little firmer. Hit it about 10 or 15 further or 20 off the tee, that would help.”

While a third green jacket is out of reach for the former Ryder Cup captain, Langer is raking in the wins on the PGA Tour Champions.  Since joining the tour in 2007, Langer has accumulated 41 wins, most recently the 2020 Cologuard Classic in March. Over the past three weeks he has finished T-4, T-2 and T-5 respectively on the Champions Tour.

Langer also played on Tour twice this season at the Charles Schwab Challenge where he missed the cut after back-to-back 70s and the RBC Heritage where he finished T-58 at 8 under.

After being grouped with four-time major champion Rory McIlroy and amateur John Augenstein for Saturday’s third round, Langer was asked about McIlroy’s chances of winning his first green jacket on Sunday.

McIlroy finished the third round 5-under 67 to sit 8 under on the tournament.

“He should. I mean, maybe not this year. He’s probably too far behind. He put himself too far behind, but he certainly has the game,” Langer said. “He hits it far. He hits it high. Today his putting was tremendous. I mean, he missed one putt that lipped out, but he made everything that he possibly could make. If you have the length and you putt well, why wouldn’t you win around here?”

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