A look at the full field for the first Greater Gwinnett Championship Champions Tour Event:
Tommy Armour III
Jay Don Blake
Chien Soon Lu
Tom Pernice Jr.
AUGUSTA -- As Sandy Lyle walked down the fairway on Saturday at Augusta National, people whispered to each other. Some even pointed.
One patron turned to another, nodded and with a smile said, "Past champion."
Golf is a game watched between whispers, tales of the players shared in hushed voices. The longer the fan, the more stories to tell, the more memories. Along with the obvious talent, that's what players like Lyle bring with them as they stroll up and down fairways.
And Lyle's next fairways, after he finishes his final round at the Masters today, will be at the TPC Sugarloaf in Gwinnett's new Champions Tour event, this week's Greater Gwinnett Championship.
Lyle is one of six golfers making the Augusta to Gwinnett trek, and Lyle and Bernhard Langer will come after four full rounds at the Masters.
Lyle, the 1988 Masters Champion, made his first cut at the major championship since finishing in the top 20 in 2009. Last year, he played 20-over in just two days.
As for Langer, he heads into today at 2-under par and near the top of a crowded field. A 17-time winner on the Champions Tour, including a win already this year, the 55-year-old Langer, is playing in his 30th Masters and until this year had missed seven straight weekends.
"I don't think there's a whole lot of players that make the cut at age 55," Langer said. "So, that's an achievement by itself."
No matter how he finishes today, Langer will come to Gwinnett.
"I will play the next three Champions Tour tournaments no matter what," Langer said when asked if his plans would change if he won another Masters.
Langer's Champions Tour win came two months ago at the ACE Group Classic in Florida and with four top-5s he's as confident as ever.
"Winning give you confidence," he said, "and playing well gives you confidence, nothing like winning."
Winning is why the players on the Champions Tour show up every week.
"It's certainly not a hit and giggle place," said Rocco Mediate, another playing in Gwinnett's field and also a winner this season. "It's nasty out there and it's really cool."
It's cool for the players to compete for wins and it's cool for the fans. Nearly every player walking down the fairways brings out the whispers. In the 81-player field, finalized Friday, there are names like Tom Kite, Fred Funk, Brad Faxon, Tom Lehman and Andy North. Tom Watson, Mark O'Meara, Larry Mize, Ben Crenshaw, Lyle and Langer all played in the Masters.
"(The people who live in Sugarloaf) saw these golfers come up, most of them are my age that live out here," said Stan Hall, the executive director of the Gwinnett Sports Commission, the group hosting this week's event. "They are thrilled about the field we have coming out here for the first year."
"The players that are on the Champions Tour right now are literally household names," Tour president Mike Stevens said. "The name recognition is really high. It's difficult to play on the Champions Tour."
It's difficult because there is still talent. Just look at Langer and Lyle. Age may wear their endurance or their power off the tee, but only so much.
"We're just as good ball strikers as any of these young guys," Langer said.