Bernhard Langer leads the way for older stars at the Masters
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The lifetime exemption for former Masters champions continues to divide opinion, with some past winners clearly abusing the privilege and staying on long past their sell-by dates.Against that, it’s not hard to understand the obvious pleasure that performers like Bernhard Langer and Sandy Lyle bring in holding back the years, to the considerable number of patrons who are about the same age.Langer, in particular, might be the most remarkable performer in the entire sport. In 228 events on the Champions Tour for the over 50s set, he’s missed just three halfway cuts, so it’s perhaps not surprising he’s more than holding his own here. After shooting 71 at the age of 61 in the first round, the German birdied the 18th hole on Thursday for a 72 to give him an under par halfway total of 143. Alongside him, the highly rated young Englishman Matt Wallace – 33 years younger than Langer – needed nine shots more. What an education this must have been for the Londoner.One of the highlights of the tournament to date must have been the manner in which Langer broke par in the opening round. His hopes appeared to be literally going down the toilet when his wild drive at the 18th finished in a temporary W.C. His second shot, following a free drop, clipped a tree. From 200 yards he found the back of the green and then produced one of the loudest roars of the day when he holed from 20ft for the best par of the tournament to date.Typical Langer. The two-time former champion, who won his titles way back in 1985 and 1993, came out the next day and holed another 20 footer to birdie the first. He was now two under and placed inside the top 15. It was getting ridiculous, before he finally started acting something like his age, by dropping three shots in a six hole spell from the fifth.Would he fade away? That’s hardly Langer is it? Never mind that this hilly course takes it out of everyone by the end. Langer birdied three of the last five holes for his eye-opening halfway total. Lyle, meanwhile, finished on a four over par 36 hole score after a 74, leaving him on the projected halfway cut line.What a shot in the arm the pair have given to golfers everywhere of a certain age.