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The Masters: No course for old men

Player Gary Player, now age 73, will play in his 52nd and final Masters this week. Even for a fitness freak like Player, he knows it's time to stop.

For most of its history, the Masters has been generous in allowing former champions to tee it up for almost as long as they want, with a few changes in recent years. But Augusta National is too long a course, the greens are too slippery and it's too hilly a layout for AARP-vintage pros to get through 18 holes without looking, well, old. I say this as an occasional weekend golfer who, at least in age, is old enough for the senior tour.

Just take a look at the sad records of some former Masters champs late in their careers in this tournament:

Arnold Palmer: Played in the Masters until 2004 when he was 74. His last seven rounds were in the 80s, with a high of 89. He missed the cut every year after reaching age 54.

Gary Player: Has missed the cut 10 straight times; in his last 14 rounds he's broken 80 only four times.

Jack Nicklaus: Last played in 2005 when he was 65; missed the cut. At age 63 he shot an embarrassing 85.

Ray Floyd: Now 67, he has missed the cut nine straight years.

Billy Casper:  Played in the Masters until he was 73 in 2005. Last six completed rounds were in the 80s, with a high of 87.

Tommy Aaron: Played until 2005 when he was 68. Shot an 87 in 2004, or 20 shots over his age.

Doug Ford: Played until 2001 when he was 78. His last completed rounds: 94, 88, 86, 94, 85.

The moral? There are no white tees at Augusta National.

-- Barry Stavro

Photo: Gary Player watches a shot during a practice round for The Masters on Tuesday. Credit: David Cannon / Getty Images

 
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