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April 4, 2021

“A Tradition Unlike Any Other,” was originally coined by CBS television announcer Jim Nantz. Augusta National has since trademarked the phrase for the Masters.

  And that it is. The tradition overwhelms us, but the field doesn’t.  It isn’t as good as the recent World Golf Championship at The Concession.  

   And that’s because the Masters exempts all former winners no matter how old they are.

I was at Augusta National to cover Arnold Palmer’s final round. He was 75-years-old and had no chance of winning or making the cut for that matter. In fact, he had trouble just walking the course.    It was the tradition of the Masters that prompted him to keep playing long after he had no chance of winning. Arnie could not get enough of it or the adulation from the patrons.   

  Jack Nicklaus once said he would no longer play the Masters when he had no chance of winning. And he didn’t. Gary Player played long beyond his competitive years.  So did Gene Littler.  

    Phil Mickelson didn’t qualify on points for the WGC but is in the field for this week’s Masters, starting Thursday. At 50-years-old, he still can be competitive — barely,.  

  Larry Mize, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam and Fred Couples also are in tournament as former winners. They have no chance of winning but tradition and fellowship keep them coming back. 

   . The Masters would be a better off if it would stage a separate tournament for former winners over 55 during Masters week and give their spots in the main  event to deserving players in the top 125 of the FedEx Cup standings.   

    That won’t happen. It is all about tradition.    .