DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE?

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DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE?

The old Masters champs, those in their early 50s and pushing into the 60s, showed that there were still some moments of good golf left in their first rounds Thursday:

FRED COUPLES

1992 champion

Age: 53

First round: 68

Comment: Since turning 50 he has shot five rounds in the 60s at Augusta National. His finishes since 50 are sixth, T-15 and T-12, and he appears set to make his 27th cut at the Masters (he will tie Raymond Floyd for third). Sadly, he hit two bunkers on 18 and made bogey to leave a bad taste.

BEN CRENSHAW

1984, 1995 champion

Age: 61

First round: 80

Comment: He matched Woosnam with 40 on each side, but he was witness to 14-year-old Tianlang Guan shooting a 1 over in the same group, so the 80 must have felt like 100.

BERNHARD LANGER

1985, 1993 champion

Age: 55

First round: 71

Comment: He had missed the cut in his six previous appearances but, much like Couples, acted as though it was a Champions tour event, making four birdies.

SANDY LYLE

1988 champion

Age: 55

First round: 73

Comment: Despite a first tee shot at No. 1 in the first grouping of the day that made him look like a candidate for the Golf Channel’s Haney Project, Lyle played a consistent round that surely made him forget 2012’s 86 in the opening round. He’ll play Friday to make only his 10th cut at the Masters since his victory.

He said it: “It was looking like a double bogey on the first, but got away with a bogey, but generally the driving was, could have been better. My irons were very poor.”

LARRY MIZE

1987 champion

Age: 54

First round: 73

Comment: Playing with Masters rookie Russell Henley, Mize played a solid if unspectacular round, but he did birdie the first hole and the par-3 12th to go with bogeys at 9, 14 and 18.

He said it: “I’ve got to hit it better tomorrow. I think I only hit about eight greens today.”

MARK O’MEARA

1999 champion

Age: 56

First round: 74

Comment: A reasonably solid round got sidetracked with bogeys at Nos. 11, 12 and 16, but it left him solidly in contention to make the cut.

TOM WATSON

Age: 63

1977, 1981 champion

First round: 79

Comment: He was 1 under after four holes and then the wheels came off with a bogey, bogey and double bogey in a stretch that got only worse with four bogeys on holes 9-13. Pars on the final five holes kept him from shooting 80-plus. Since 1998, the two-time champion has shot 77 or worse in the first round seven times.

He said it: “I birdied No. 3. … Thanks for asking about the birdie. That was the only one all day. I appreciate that.”

IAN WOOSNAM

1991 champion

Age: 55

First round: 80

Comment: What a roller-coaster ride he went on: He posted fat 40s on both sides, with two double bogeys. The only thing that kept it from being worse was an eagle 3 on the par-5 15th.

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