Golf’s old guard proves a point at Augusta

04/14/2014 12:04 AM

04/14/2014 12:05 AM

Why not?

That was Miguel Angel Jimenez’s answer when asked Sunday if an over-50 Champions Tour player can win the Masters.

Jimenez, 50, came close, finishing fourth with a 4-under 284.

Sam Snead has the highest Masters finish for a 50-plus player with a third-place showing in 1963.

Jimenez was joined in the top 10 by two-time Masters champ Bernhard Langer, 56, who tied for eighth with an even-par 288.

“People take care of themselves these days,” Jimenez said. “They are being more healthy. If you don’t want to be here at 50, you shouldn’t be here. I love the game, I love competing, and probably that is the reason.”

Langer said the 50-and-over players made a statement.

“We can compete at the highest level, even on a very, very long golf course like this one,” he said. “Guys in their 40s used to quit and say, ‘I’m done.’ But with the Champions Tour waiting, they are working harder, knowing they can play another five or 10 years.”

Fred Couples, 54, had the next best score among seniors with a 2-over, 290.

“The Champions Tour is tough,” Couples said, “but when you come over here (to the Masters), it would be like the lottery for one of us to win this thing.”

Rookies of the year

Eleven of the record-high 24 rookies in the Masters field made the cut, and two finished tied for second.

Jonas Blixt and Jordan Spieth both finished at 5-under 283, three strokes off the pace set by champion Bubba Watson.

Three first-timers have won the Masters, but none since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

No rookie finish was more meaningful than that of Oliver Goss, the only amateur to make the cut and the winner of the Silver Cup for the tournament’s low amateur. He finished at 10-over 298.

His countryman, Adam Scott, was the first Australian to win the Masters in 2013, and Goss is the first Aussie to win low amateur.

“I can’t believe it, to be honest with you,” Goss said. “To be the first (Aussie) is really quite unbelievable.”

Goss is a junior on the University of Tennessee golf team. He celebrated his 20th birthday with a cake on Saturday.

“This week has been a great experience,” Goss said. “I’ll step back at some point and learn as much as I can from the whole week.”

Another Masters rookie, Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, shot the low round on Sunday with a 67.

No title defense

Defending champion Adam Scott rebounded from a 76 on Saturday to shoot 72 on Sunday and finish 1-over. Scott blamed his putter.

“My pace was off on the long putts,” he said. “And when it gets on fire around here, you are going to have to make a lot of long putts. I missed my share of them and had some three-putts, and it just makes it very hard to have really good scores every day.”

Scott said he enjoyed the week as the defending champ.

“All the ovations you receive around here will be amazing memories for me,” he said.

Chip shots

Rickie Fowler on whether his friendship with Bubba Watson will change after Watson won his second green jacket: “No. He’s always going to be Bubba to me. I might try to keep him grounded and humble, though.” ... Rory McIlroy rebounded over the weekend to shoot 71 and 69 after a disastrous 77 on Friday. He finished at even-par 288. “I was even on the par 5s, so I have to play them better,” he said. “You’re looking to be 10-12 under on the par 5s to have a chance.”

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