Fred Couples leads vibrant 50-and-over contingent at Masters

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Fred Couples leads vibrant 50-and-over contingent at Masters

PGA Tour

Fred Couples leads vibrant 50-and-over contingent at Masters

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Thirty years after Larry Mize slipped on the green jacket, he made the cut for a 20th time at the Masters. Mize, 58, two-putted from 70 feet on the 18th hole to make the cut on the number.

Not to be outdone, Fred Couples delighted patrons on the 25th anniversary of his Masters victory when he nearly holed his second shot for eagle Saturday on the 18th. The closing birdie put the 57-year-old at 1 under, three back of Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Thomas Pieters and Charley Hoffman. Only nine players finished 36 holes in red numbers.

“For me, I don’t think it’s about driving the ball far or hitting great irons,” said Couples. “It’s about knowing the course.”

In all, three PGA Tour Champions players advanced to the weekend, including 50-year-old Steve Sticker at 4 over. They’ve got a combined 82 Masters appearances.

Mize, who worked the scoreboard on the third hole at Augusta National as a teen, had 3 feet for par on the last hole. He gave himself a pep talk before striking the putt.

“I felt pretty good, because I told myself, you know what, just knock it in, it’s just a putt,” said Mize. “… don’t make it more important than it was.”

Couples said he can’t even remember many of the shots he hit in 1992. He does, however, recall learning quite a bit from a third-round 81 in 1983 in which he played alongside Tom Watson. That was Couples’ first trip to Augusta. He’s now competing for the 32nd time.

Paul Casey played alongside Couples in the first two rounds and marveled at how he managed to miss it in all (or mostly) the right spots.

“It was just beautiful,” Casey said of Couples’ opening 73 in brutal wind.

Couples had managed to finish inside the top nine after 36 holes for five consecutive years from 2010 to 2014. He goes into the weekend in a tie for sixth this time around. It’s a 36-hole record that, in recent years, no one else can touch.

Day 3, however, hasn’t been kind to Couples of late. His third-round scoring average in that run from ’10-14: 73. If the wind were to continue into the weekend, Couples believes that would be to his advantage. The forecast, however, might be too picture-perfect.

Couples will have to press down on the gas to keep up with players half his age, like Jon Rahm, the 22-year-old he’s paired with on Saturday.

“I’m not going to be thinking about winning the tournament until Sunday,” said Couples, “or the back nine on Sunday.”

Can’t wait.

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