Bernhard Langer Keeps Tough Final Round in Perspective
Bernhard Langer looked poised to capture his 12th major title when he rolled in his fourth birdie of the day to take the outright lead as he made the turn at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. But over the inward nine, the preparedness, execution, and meticulous nature by which he plays the game faded along with Langer, whose game took a turn after getting unlucky at No. 10. It was there that he twice found his ball in divots. And although he managed to save par, that’s where Langer says he lost all momentum.
In an uncharacteristic finish, Langer recorded bogeys on holes Nos. 12-14. And after finding water off the tee at the 72nd hole, Langer made a closing double bogey to card a final round of even par which put him right back where he started the day. He finished solo third at 10-under par, six strokes behind Champion Steven Alker.
“I was 14-under, leading by one with eight holes to go, and just didn't close it. I went backwards instead of continue to make birdies,” Langer said about his back nine on Sunday. “There's no reason for me to make three bogeys and a double-bogey the last, whatever, seven holes.”
Sunday, Langer began the final round at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan two strokes back of 54-hole leader Stephen Ames and hoped to repeat what he’d done three times before in coming from behind to win a major championship.
But Langer came into the week saying he wasn’t quite sure where his game was after taking a few weeks off to spend time with his son who was graduating from college. And still, the 43-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions is never one to be counted out whenever the Tour competes. He quickly seemed to find his form when he opened with back to back rounds of 68 and then carded a 67 on moving day. A win, and the history that would come with it, all but seemed certain when Langer made the turn with the final round lead on Sunday.
“I just haven't felt comfortable with my swing all week. Yesterday it felt better, but it showed up again,” Langer said. “I need to improve my swing. Need to work on it. I've been trying but at times I've felt like, yeah, this is better but then it's still -- that right shot showed up too many times. Showed its ugly face too often this week and I'm going to have to find a solution to do better in the future.”
Langer wasn’t just chasing Ames on Sunday but history as well.
With a victory at Harbor Shores, Langer, 64, would have become the oldest player to win a senior major. He also had a chance to secure a record 12th major title. And, a win would have edged Langer within one of matching the all-time wins record on the PGA Tour Champions, which was set by Hale Irwin with 45.
“The encouraging thing is that I finished third with my B or C Game at times. I had my A Game at times but there were a few other shots that I would rather forget quickly,” Langer said on Sunday. “There's no reason to throw in the towel. It's just a matter of working out the kinks that I'm experiencing and get my A Game back.”