AUGUSTA, Ga. — Larry Mize missed the Masters Tournament cut by the slimmest of margins for most of the past four years, including 2013, when a late birdie by second-round leader Jason Day knocked him out by a shot.
With that in mind, Mize, the 1987 Masters champ and Augusta native, turned aggressive on the par-5 15th hole in Friday’s second round. He was 1-over for the day after bogey on the 14th dropped him back to a tie for 51st place. Only the top 50 and ties make the cut.
Mize, not the longest of hitters, decided to go for the green on the 15th in two shots.
“I was right on the cusp of going for it,” he said. “I had to hit 3-wood. I thought with that pin (front-right), it’s hard to hit a wedge in there close sometimes. I said, ‘You know what, we came here to play. Let’s let it go. Let’s give it a shot and give it a run.’”
Mize’s shot went just over the green. He chipped up to 2 feet and made birdie. He parred the final three holes for even-par 72 and finished at 2-over 146, making the cut for the first time since 2009.
“It makes me feel great,” said Mize, 55. “It’s been a few years since I did play on the weekend. I’ve really been looking forward to this week all year to try to get back to be playing on the weekend. I’m excited to be playing.”
He and his coach, Mark Immelman, had to work to get Mize ready. In four Champions Tour starts this season, he has tied for 53rd, tied for 37th, tied for 70th and tied for 63rd.
“I’ve not been playing very well this year,” he said. “I’ve been working on everything – everything needed work. Mark and I have worked really hard this week. And I’ve got things going better.”
Mize had 28 putts in his first-round 74 and 23 on Friday.
“The putter has really been keeping me in there with the course playing long,” said Mize, who made a 20-footer on No. 11 to save par. “It saved me today.”
Mize, who as a former champion has a lifetime exemption into the Masters, never thought his days of playing the final two rounds at Augusta were over because he’d been so close lately. He missed the cut by one shot in 2010, by five in 2011, by two in 2012 and by one in 2013.
“It was frustrating because I was so close,” he said.
He plans to continue to play in the Masters “as long as I feel I’m competitive and I’m not holding anybody up or bothering anybody,” he said. “I just take it one year at a time. I’ll play a few more years, maybe to 60.”