AUGUSTA, Ga. – Last year, 61-year-old Mark O’Meara played his final Masters. Ben Crenshaw made his final turn at Augusta National in 2015 at 63, while Tom Watson endured a few years longer before playing his last in 2016 at 66 years old.
There is no hard deadline for former champions at the year’s first major to step aside, with the club allowing players to leave on their own terms. But knowing when the time is right is not an exact science.
Consider Fred Couples, the 1992 champion, who is playing his 34th Masters this week but has remained impressively competitive at Augusta National well into his golden years.
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Following a practice round on Monday with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas, Couples was asked his thoughts on his Masters longevity.
“I plan on playing a few more, but if it keeps playing this long we’ll see,” Couples, 59, said.
Despite the relative length of Augusta National, it seems unlikely Couples would be close to the end of his playing career at Augusta National. He’s missed the cut just once (2015) in his last eight starts and has finished inside the top 20 six times during that span, including his tie for 18th in 2017.