US Masters golf 2016: Jason Day and Bernhard Langer take different routes to leaderboard

Two ways: Bernhard Langer and Jason Day, on the 18th hole. Photo: Jae C. HongDay in contention as Spieth faltersGolfer’s bizarre penalty
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Whether in a weekend stableford or a major tournament, there is a young person’s way and an old person’s way of playing golf. Take the 14th hole, the 400-metre par four known as ‘Chinese Fir’, at Augusta National on Saturday.

Jason Day, 28, took the young person’s way: a mighty drive yanked left into the trees; a recovery shot that scuttled down the treeline onto the lower deck of the green; and a 23-metre putt that took more turns than a government tax policy before finding the hole.

Then there was the old person’s way: Bernhard Langer, 58, knocked a driver and a hybrid up the middle and chipped in from the fringe. Two ways of life, two enormous roars, same result. When so much of the golf was about survival and saving pars, a pair of birdies against the wind was a rare victory for young and old alike. Watch @JDayGolf sink a 69-foot birdie putt on No. 14 to move into a tie for third. #themastershttps://t.co/QWAjYcHpqf— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 9, 2016

As the heavyweight third round match-up of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy fizzled, it was the Day-Langer pairing that caught the imagination. They worked together, like a pair of team riders, to carry the field up to the breakaway leader Spieth. Day muscled the ball out of sight, created many opportunities, missed a few, but scrambled some nerveless par saves. If Day was fire, Langer was ice, pushing the ball shorter and simpler, as if he had no time for the extravagance of youth. On another blustery afternoon, Langer shot a two-under 70 and Day a one-under 71, both gaining significant ground on Spieth.

Jason was longer, but it was Bernhard’s day. Where the Australian was lofting wedges into the crusty-topped greens, the German was hitting hybrids, the ageing amateur’s favourite club. But Langer was doing it well enough to birdie the second, fifth, eighth, 13th, 14th and 15th holes in a master class of how to play Augusta National down low in the wind, showing the benefits of 113 competitive rounds on his 33 Masters visits. “I played smart, aggressive‑smart, if you can be aggressive hitting hybrids into these greens, I don’t know,” Langer said.

He was also showing skill with his long putter, which he used without anchoring his top hand on his chest. He said he had tried 25 to 30 different putters since this year’s ban on anchoring came into force, but went back to the long stick, which he has been using since the early 1990s.

Winning, he said, “would be one for the old guys”. Langer would not only be the oldest major winner, but he would be more than a decade older than Jack Nicklaus when he won the Masters at a grandfatherly 46. The 30th anniversary of Nicklaus’ last victory has been the subject of much reminiscence this week. The defending champion, that year, was Langer. Jason Day was not yet born.

Perhaps Langer has an ageing portrait in his attic. Dorian Gray-like, he appeared unchanged by the years, slim and meticulous and perfectly composed. His 54-hole score was just one stroke shy of when he won his first green jacket in 1985. In that year, and during his second win in 1993, he was sparring with the late Seve Ballesteros, whose spirit was revived by his swashbuckling Australian playing partner.

Day clearly enjoyed playing with a man more than twice his age. Indeed, even Day’s father-figure, caddie Colin Swatton, could almost be Langer’s son. ‘It was pretty cool’ trading spectacular birdies with Langer on the 14th, Day said. “He gave me knuckles on the way up… We were both kind of urging each other on…. It just goes to show how competitive he is. To be able to be a 58‑year‑old man, be competitive with us, and want it as much as he did 40 years ago is pretty impressive.”

The world No.1, three behind Spieth, was the last Australian chance going into day four. Adam Scott (seven over par after a 75) and Cameron Smith (13 over par after an 82) were among a host of players to submit to the challenge posed by the course. Only four players – Spieth, American Smylie Kaufman, Langer and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama – were under par leading into the final round, making it the highest-scoring Masters Tournament in a decade.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.