Beginning in 2006, the two-time champion missed six consecutive cuts and did not play in the 2011 tournament because of a thumb injury. But that changed last year with a 25th-place finish.
This year, the 56-year-old Langer finished in a tie for eighth at even-par with Sunday’s final-round 69.
The 1985 and ’93 champion gives much of the credit to the competitiveness of the over-50 circuit.
“I think guys stay in better shape, and they know that there’s a great tour with the Champions Tour waiting for them,” said Langer, who will be in the field this week in the Greater Gwinnett Championship at Sugarloaf Country Club in Duluth. “Now, in their late 40s, (players) don’t kind of quit and say, ‘I’m kind of done.’ They’re actually maybe working harder at it knowing they’re going to have five or 10 years, maybe more, on the Champions Tour.”
Langer is leading by example. He currently leads the Charles Schwab Cup race and he already has a win, two seconds and five top-10s in five Champions Tour tournaments this season. In his six full seasons on the tour, Langer has won the money list all five years he’s been healthy, with total winnings of $13.2 million.
Langer was one of six players over 50 to make the cut at the Masters. He was joined by Miguel Angel Jimenez, who finished in a tie for fourth, and Fred Couples, who made a quiet charge early Sunday, as well as Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize and Vijay Singh.
All but Singh will be in this week’s field at Sugarloaf.
They will be joined by Marietta resident Larry Nelson and former Wheeler High School standout Bob Tway.
ONE AND DONE: Jimenez isn’t going to play many Champions Tour events this year.
In fact, he’s only going to play one — this week in Duluth.
“I’m going to play (only) this week,” he said. “I plan to focus myself for the Ryder Cup, and I need to play the European Tour for that.
“If you don’t play over there, you won’t have as good of chances. I would like to play on the Ryder Cup (team) and I would like to help Europe defend the Ryder Cup. I would love to do that.”
NOT NOW, DAD: Craig Stadler was waiting behind the 18th green when his son, Kevin, finished his final round.
But there was no great big hug like Jack Nicklaus gave his son, Jackie, in 1986.
Kevin Stadler closed his round bogey-bogey to finish at even-par and a six-way tie for eighth. A par-par finish would have left him in a tie for fifth with Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar. The difference in winnings was about $100,000.
The elder Stadler, a former champion making his final appearance at the Masters, missed the cut after going 15-over through two rounds.
Instead of a hug, there were no words said, and just a pat on the back.
“I was a little too (upset) to talk to him,” Kevin Stadler said. “Unfortunately, I got a bad (temper) gene I inherited from him. He knows what’s going through my mind.”
MONEY TALKS: Bubba Watson’s share of the Masters $9 million purse is a record $1,620,000 — up from the $1,440,000 Adam Scott won last year.
Second-place finishers Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt brought home $972,000 apiece, while Jimenez earned $612,000 for his fourth-place finish.
When Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters, first place was worth $144,000. In 2014, players earned that much for finishing 17th.