Column: Golf’s most endearing charm: Fending off Father Time

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Phil Mickelson flashed the faraway look of a man nearing a half-century of life, clearly pondering where the time went.

“It goes by fast,” he reminisced, glancing toward the rolling hills and towering pines beyond the Augusta National clubhouse.

Then, just like that, Lefty snapped out of it.

He’s got his sights on a fourth green jacket.

“I think I’ve got another major in me,” Mickelson said confidently. “At least one, maybe two. I would love to get one right here.”

The 100th round of his Masters career wasn’t all that memorable, a middling 1-over 73 Friday in which he was forced to scramble mightily to overcome a wayward driver.

But it was enough to keep him in the thick of things after an opening-round 67, to give him a shot at becoming the oldest player to win one of golf’s major championships.

For a sport that can be a bit lethargic, needlessly complicated and way too stuffy, this remains one of its overwhelming charms.

On any given day, the old guys can still go swing-for-swing with all those buffed-up youngsters, giving us all a bit of hope as we approach middle age and beyond, clear evidence that our golden years don’t have to be confined to a rocking chair.

That’s especially the case at Augusta National, which embraces the geezers like a warm, comfy blanket.

“Every time I come here, I just feel like a kid again,” Mickelson said. “It’s so much fun.”

He’s already got one major title since entering his 40s, capturing the 2013 British Open at age 43. Now, with his 50th birthday a little over two months away, there’s little doubt that he’s still got the game to win another.

“I expected to be a little bit better, to be honest,” said Mickelson, whose 4-under 140 left him three shots off the lead. “But there’s nothing better than having a chance going into the weekend at the Masters, and that’s what I want to focus on. I know that I’m playing well enough.”

As with all sports, golf will always be a young man’s game.

A player is far more likely to win a major title in his 20s than his 40s.

But there’s a good three dozen members of the Over-40 Major Champions Club, and it seems only a matter of time before someone in their 50s break through to win one of the biggest events.

For now, the oldest to do it was Julius Boros, at the PGA Championship way back in 1968, when he was about four months past his 48th birthday. But Tom Watson very nearly captured the 2009 British Open at age 59, squandering a lead with a bogey on the 72nd hole and losing to Stewart Cink in a four-hole playoff.

Mickelson already has a victory this season and it’s not at all far-fetched to envision him contending for a few more championships after he turns 50 on June 16 — which just happens to be the same day as the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, site of his …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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