FANCOURT, SOUTH AFRICA |
flips through his yardage book at arm’s
length. Then, after a few seconds, he
holds it closer. And then, even closer.
But Woosnam is obviously keenly aware
of the march of time, and nothing reminds
him more of this than The Masters. This
year marks 19 years since Woosnam took
a pair of red plaid pants and mixed it with
a green jacket amidst a golden period for
British golf at Augusta National.
Sandy Lyle began this process in 1988.
Nick Faldo carried it further with his
triumphs in 1989 and 1990, and Woosnam
completed it with an eight-foot putt on the
72nd hole in 1991.
But for all the ability of the Masters to
glorify its past champions and turn most of
them all misty-eyed, it also reminds them
of how the fairways there are always green
and the flowers always in bloom, while they
return every year slightly older, with a few
more wrinkles, and eye infections that take
that much longer to disappear.
“Well, I’m looking forward to it,”
Woosnam says of his return there this
year. “This one will be exciting, with Tiger
coming back. It’s great that they’ve got TV
on the first nine as well so that everybody
gets a good look at all 18 holes. Everybody
knows Augusta and this will make it even
But his next comment is like the shift
from a 20-foot birdie putt to win a tour-
nament rushing past the hole, and then
suddenly facing the reality of an eight-foot
putt back to now avoid losing it.
Ian Woosnam looks forward
to another trip to Augusta.
“I hope it hasn’t been raining too
much,” he says. “If it’s playing really long,
it’s very difficult.”
When Woosnam won at Augusta in
1991, it was playing to a length of 6,905
yards. Nowadays, it’s out to 7,445 yards.
She gets younger and stronger, while her
past champions get older and weaker.
“I just want to make the cut, really,”
says Woosnam. “If it’s running a little, I
have a chance.”
But look at Lyle, someone in the con-
versation adds. Lyle finished tied 20th in
last year’s Masters, at the age of 51.
“No, no, no. Sandy hits it miles past
me,” Woosnam responds.
But you’re playing well. You won the
European Senior Tour Order of Merit in
your rookie season in 2008. Tom Watson
showed how competitive senior golf has
become when he stole the show at the
Open Championship last year.
Watson does bring back a Masters
memory for Woosnam. He, Jose Maria
Olazabal and Watson were tied for the lead
playing the 18th. Olazabal bogeyed the last
to limp out of contention, Watson made
double-bogey to take himself out of it, and
Woosnam scrambled for par and the title.
And the 2001 Open Championship at
Lytham turned back the clock somewhat as
Woosnam was in contention on the final day.
That was before caddie Miles Byrne failed to
spot a second driver in the bag, which meant
they had 15 clubs instead of the 14 allowed,
resulting in a two-stroke penalty.
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