Larry Mize makes it feel like '87 all over again

0409_larry-mize_299x259 AUGUSTA, Ga. — What is this, the 1987 class reunion? Greg Norman, who played his way back into the Masters at age 54, went out and shot 70 Thursday. Larry Mize, 50, the man who famously chipped in to beat Norman and win the ’87 Masters, looked thoroughly rejuvenated as he fired an opening 67.It was an impressive round for a guy who plays senior golf these days and actually teed it up five times in Nationwide Tour events in ’07 when he needed someplace to play and didn’t have exempt status. He wasn’t waxing nostalgic, however, just pleased to be on top of his game again.“Well, it still didn't feel like '87,” Mize said. “It's a different golf course, and it needs to be a different golf course. The game has changed. But some of the tees were up today, which I think was a good thing, and it did not play quite as long as it can. I just had a good attitude. I remember driving down Magnolia Lane Tuesday night to come to the champions’ dinner. It reminds me how nice it is  and how thankful I am to come back to this place every year.”Mize was clearly the surprise of the day, although Chad Campbell looked like the winner in that category when he got to nine under par during his round before he finished bogey-bogey and settled for 65. Mize has made only one cut in his last eight Masters, and he hasn’t shot any score under par at Augusta National since a second-round 67 in 2000. An Augusta native, Mize first worked as a tournament volunteer in 1967 when he was nine years old, assigned to the scoreboard on the third hole. Every round at this course is special for him. As a hometown boy, he gets special treatment from the galleries.“The fans were great today; that’s as much whooping and hollering as I’ve had in a while,” Mize said. “I haven’t given them much reason in the last few years to do it again.  The fans spurred me on and that made today even better.”And yes, he still draws comments about that 1987 chip-in. “That’s still a popular question for me,” he said. “It’s OK, I don’t mind. It’s a good subject for me.”Mize had an explanation for why he and Norman and other experienced players fared well in the opening round. “We’re still competitors, we love to compete and we love this place,” he said. “Greg showed last year at the British Open, he can still contend. At a place like this, experience is always a good thing. It’s good anywhere but maybe even more here. We are just old guys fighting as best we can.”(Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

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