Langers Eye for Detail an Asset

By Associated PressSeptember 12, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupCaddies and players like to tell about the time in the 1991 Ryder Cup match at Kiawah Island when Bernhard Langer asked partner Colin Montgomerie to step off the yardage from a sprinkler head to the front of the green.
Monty told him it was 183 yards.

'Was that from the front of the sprinkler or the back?' Langer replied.
Or so the story goes.
'No, it's not true,' Langer said with a smile. 'That was a good joke from Colin or his caddie, and they just announced it to someone else and it spread. A sprinkler head is this big. Nobody is good enough to hit the ball within 6 inches.
'The Germans might be precise,' he added. 'But not that precise.'
The story was easy to believe, though. Langer is a nut when it comes to detail, and that might be the greatest strength he brings as European captain of the 35th Ryder Cup matches at Oakland Hills.
Langer leaves nothing to chance.
He can fill a yardage book with so many notes that there is no room left to write. He often carried some 20 clubs during a practice round, trying to decide which were the best fit for that course under various conditions. Unable to overpower a course, he compensated with strategy.
It led to 16 consecutive years of winning, including two Masters and two European tour money titles.
'I'm very tactical,' Langer said. 'I like to think I'm one of the guys who thinks himself around the course very smartly. That's always been one of my strengths.'
Langer is only the second continental European to be captain. The other was Seve Ballesteros of Spain in 1997, and no one will ever mistake the two. Ballesteros was full of passion and flair. Langer goes about his business methodically, and he is not easily ruffled.
'Bernhard will bring his professionalism to the job,' Lee Westwood said. 'You know every angle will be covered.'
Langer played on his 10th Ryder Cup team two years ago at The Belfry and he never lost a match -- 2-0-1 in team matches with Colin Montgomerie, then a solid victory in singles over Hal Sutton, his opposing captain at Oakland Hills.
He has been so steady for so long that Langer wasn't sure whether to accept the European captaincy because he thought he was still good enough to make the team. Indeed, he was tied for the lead at one point Sunday in the Masters but was unable to keep up with Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els and tied for fourth.
Still, his captaincy already has been filled with questions.
Langer was passed over as a captain's pick in 1999 when Mark James took Andrew Coltart, who had never played in a Ryder Cup and then was benched until Sunday. Some believe that inspired Langer to move away from the old guard, especially when he named Joakim Haeggman and Anders Forsbrand of Sweden, and later Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, as his assistant captains.
Asked the difference between Langer and previous captains, Darren Clarke hardly offered a ringing endorsement.
'Bernhard's from Germany,' he said. 'He'll have his own ideas. He keeps a lot close to his chest. I'm sure he'll be a very good captain, very thorough.'
The British press grilled Langer for not coming to the British Open when he didn't qualify, feeling he was missing an opportunity to see which players were in form. Langer said it was still early in the selection process, and the last thing a player needed was to see Langer following along, creating distractions.
Then he chose to take his oldest daughter to college during the first few rounds of the BMW International Open in Germany, the final qualifying tournament for the Ryder Cup. Again, Langer stuck to his decision by saying it was important for a father to be with his daughter as she began a life of independence.
A strong Christian who married an American and lives in Boca Raton, Fla., Langer brings a quiet confidence as captain, but also a competitiveness that doesn't always get its due.
'Bernhard's record speaks for itself,' Clarke said. 'He's a double major champion.'
He had a 21-15-6 record in his 10 Ryder Cups, and he beat Sutton twice in singles at The Belfry -- 4 and 3 in 2002, 5 and 4 in 1985.
Still, mention Langer and the Ryder Cup and what comes to mind is missing a 6-foot par putt on the final hole of the final match, which cost Europe the cup at Kiawah in 1991. It remains one of the most compelling images in Ryder Cup history, Langer leaning back and letting out a guttural cry when the putt turned away.
'I sometimes see that famous photo of me in the moment afterward. There is so much disappointment for my team in my face,' Langer said. 'When I look back, I feel the shivers all over again.'
What followed is a testament to Langer. The very next week, he won the German Masters in a playoff.
'That's the mark of a great champion and a great person,' Stewart Cink said.
Langer is no stranger to hard times.
He nearly died as a child after suffering from fever cramps. He earned $1 a round as a caddie on the nine-hole course near his house in Germany, turned pro when he was 18 and won the first of his 66 international titles a year later. Langer was the first player to be No. 1 when the world ranking made its debut in 1986.
His roots in golf speak volumes about the player he became.
The other caddies called him 'Eagle Eye' because he never lost a ball, even in grass that covered his knees. Langer would simply pick the spot where the ball landed and walk a straight line, taking small steps until he found it.
He always had an eye for detail.
Related Links:
  • European Ryder Cup Team

  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup

    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.