A 64-year-old nearly hit a 25-year-old. But the next 2 hours at Augusta were great. 

Sandy Lyle and Collin Morikawa played together Wednesday at Augusta National.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — The pairing was odd, the Masters patron said. 

You could say that. It certainly started as such. Collin Morikawa, 25-year-old two-time major champ, was out by himself for his Wednesday morning practice round at Augusta National, when a ball sailed over his head as he walked off the 3rd green. He looked back and continued on to 4. 

As he waited at the tee, Sandy Lyle, a 64-year-old two-time major champ, shouted an apology. 

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“You’re good, you’re good,” Morikawa yelled back, and he gave the 1988 Masters champ a thumbs-up.    

It happens. But what followed doesn’t occur all too much, though it can at the Masters, where past winners have a lifetime pass back. They joined up. And you know what? Over the next couple hours, Morikawa, one of the future faces of the game, and Lyle, who could be his grandfather, hit it off. What did the “odd” couple talk about? Let’s listen in.

‘150th anniversary of the belt’

On the par-4 5th green, with just four people watching (the marquee grouping of Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Fred Couples were playing the par-3 16th just a long iron away), Lyle took his hat off and doubled over. Morikawa smiled. 

What was so funny? Morikawa won last year’s Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, where Lyle won in 1985, and Lyle was letting him in on what a champion used to receive. 

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“Yeah, so I talked to him about the Open Championship at St. Andrews coming up because he’s obviously an Open winner,” Lyle said afterward. “I said this year is a very special year. He kind of goes why? It’s just another Open. I said it’s the 150th anniversary of the belt.

“So it was a little bit of a history lesson I gave to him because the belt used to be played as the Open Championship. Tom Morris Jr. won it three years in a row, so back in 1860-something, they gave him the belt, and then they had nothing to play for in 1871. Hence why we play for the Claret Jug now.

“So I gave him a little history lesson. I said, if anybody comes up to you panicking, saying we need to present you with a British Open Belt after you’ve had the Claret Jug, at least you know what it’s all about because I got caught that way as well. These people from Prestwick Golf Club want to give you a belt. Can’t you see I’m busy? 

“So that was a little history lesson, so he enjoyed that.”

“There’s this Open Championship belt that I had no clue was a thing that apparently they give out to a couple champions here and there,” Morikawa said. 

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‘Sticky fringes?’

On the 6th green, Morikawa let Lyle use his plastic practice hole. Before that, walking off the green on their way to the 6th tee, they talked Augusta.  

“I just pointed out that the fringes around here are a little bit easier, they’re firmer,” Lyle said. “First bounce, the ball’s releasing, which we never do before. It’s always known as the sticky fringes. I played quite a few chip shots around the edge of the green. Normally I would use a blade or a 5-wood or something or a 3-iron all the time. Never thought about trying to chip it into the bank.

“So I found this year especially the fringes are releasing when it hits the fringe, and then you get some sort of control with it, probably better than my blade shot, which is unusual. So that’s a little difference from previous years, so not quite the usual sticky fringes that we’re used to using, or I’m used to using.

“That’s really the main thing. The course is playing as long as it needs to be, way too long for me. But the big boys can turn these par-5s still into reachable in two. That’s the big difference. They’re hitting it 40, 50 yards way past my drives.”

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“We had a lot of talk about just how different the course has changed, about when he first started playing to what we have now and the past five or 10 years,” Morikawa said. “There’s little changes that you can’t realize and don’t notice, but he’s someone that’s been here and knows every part of this golf course.

“So it’s cool to see how he kind of plays it around even though it’s a different game than I probably play or what a lot of guys play right now.”

Bad drop

On the 7th green, rules officials walked through, and the PGA Tour’s Ken Tackett talked with Morikawa on the way to the 8th tee. There, Morikawa’s caddie, JJ Jakovac, told a longer rules story.  

“It was just about — I think he said it was about Chris Kirk at Conway Farms a long time ago, placed a ball, rolled into his own pitch mark,” Morikawa said. “It was a good story.”

About a half-hour later, the 25-year-old two-time major champ and the 64-year-old two-time major champ soon walked on 9. Odd? You could say that. Engaging? You could say Morikawa and Lyle were that, too. 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.