AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Bernhard Langer has seen just about everything during his 37 years playing the Masters but Saturday provided a first for someone who has been featuring here since before most of this year’s competitors were even born.
A unique Masters being played largely in silence without spectators means those few people on the Augusta National premises need to be more observant than usual to stay out of the way, without any gallery noise to provide audible cues.
Twice Masters champion Langer and his playing companions were on the eighth tee when one oblivious volunteer ambled across the fairway barely 100 yards away.
Never mind that Langer’s bright orange slacks could almost be visible from outer space, the man did not so much as glance to his left.
Without missing a beat, Langer, smacked his drive directly over the man’s head, and only then allowed his famed concentration to be interrupted.
“Good morning,” the 63-year-old German yelled with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice. “Wake up.”
The man, suitably admonished, then broke into a trot for the last few yards of his traverse across the fairway, though his gesture to make amends was too late to make any difference.
Langer’s drive at that hole travelled all of 250 yards, only 70 yards shorter than that of Rory McIlroy, with whom he played.
Having become the oldest player ever to make the halfway cut at the Masters, Langer managed a respectable one-over-par 73, before speaking about the incident at the eighth.
“I tee it up, and I can see him coming,” Langer said. “He’s already 10 yards into the fairway and I’m thinking, ‘Well, should I stop now?’ I just figure, what the heck, I’ll just hit it over the top of him.
“He wasn’t in danger, but he was clearly in my view, let’s put it that way. You don’t see that very often that people are walking somewhere across the fairway.”
Later, a 60-foot putt at the par-three 16th that dived into the cup for an unlikely birdie prompted Langer to burst out laughing at the improbability of it all.
“It was going like a train,” he said. “I got a mini-cheer from the 12-and-half people walking with us.”
Just being around for the weekend is improbable enough for the 1985 and 1993 champion, who even in his heyday was not a particularly long hitter.
“I don’t think the course has ever played this long,” Langer said, referring to the lack of roll in the fairways due to the rain earlier in the week.
“It was really wet, and I don’t remember hitting three-woods into so many par-fours.”
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ken Ferris
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