Alone Among Europes Finest Langer Just Keeps Rolling On

By George WhiteOctober 8, 2001, 4:00 pm
He is nothing if not a survivor. Bernhard Langer keeps chugging along, and you wonder if it will ever end. Come age, come injury, come putting styles, Langer will be winning golf tournaments until they cart him off the course in a wheelchair.
He won the Linde German Masters last week, his second title on the European Tour in a season which he spent much of the time playing golf in America. Langer now is No. 3 in earnings in Europe and 21st in the U.S. He has won nearly $1.6 million here, $1,375,000 in Europe (approximately $350,000 counts on both tours), and now has risen again to No. 11 in the World Rankings.
Langer was No. 1 when the first rankings came out way back during in April of 1986. He quickly dropped to No. 2 when Seve Ballesteros leaped into the top spot. It looked like Ballesteros would be there long after Langer was peering at scrapbooks and old trophies for his inspiration.
Look again, folks.
Langer is 44 years old. Europes finest were born in a 14-month period between 1957 and 1958 ' Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Langer. Nick Price was born in this timespan, as well as Mark OMeara. All have won in multiples, been major champions, and aged gracefully in the limelight of hugely successful careers. But alone amongst the rest, Langer is still doing it, still winning tourney after tourney.
Why? It cant be good health ' Langer has a back that never gives warning when it will freeze up, and it has frozen up numerous times during his career. It cant solely be dedication ' Faldo was every bit as dedicated. It cant solely be athletic talent ' Ballesteros was much more coordinated. It cant be early ability ' this son of a humble bricklayer was born in Germany, a country which had only one public golf course when Langer began playing.
What is it? Who knows? But Langer has not just stuck it out, he is still playing exceptionally well while the others are just hanging on.
I cant help thinking about his past. He lived an extremely harsh childhood. His father was a war prisoner who leaped out of a moving train in Czechoslavakia, making it to freedom in what was then West Germany. Bernhard grew up 30 miles from Munich in the little town of Anhausen, the youngest of three children. Yes, they were poor. Very poor.
He went to school in a building where grades 1-4 were in one room. He failed English and mathematics in the fifth grade and that was virtually the end of his formal education, though he still went to school from time to time. By now, though, he was a caddy, earning the equivalent of $3 a round. And he began to play a little, using four hickory-shafted clubs.
By the time Bernhard was 11, he had saved enough money from $3-rounds to buy a full set of clubs. He was 15 when he went to a job counselor and was told by the stern interviewer that there was no such thing as a golf professional. Langer knew better, and he quit school altogether to become one.
He had planned to be a teaching pro, but by age 17, he was too successful in professional tournaments to stay in a clubhouse selling golf gloves. So he took a deep breath and brought a little Ford, driving 2,000 miles to Spain and Portugal to make a go of the life of a touring pro.
What happened since then is just unheard-of. Faldo, Woosnam and Lyle all grew up in golfing hotbeds with the very best instruction and the latest in equipment. Langer grew up with only a curious mind and determination. That would be plenty enough, as it turns out.
Langer lives in South Florida now with his American wife and four children. He speaks perfect English, though there is a bit of sing-song lilt that denotes a German speaking. But one thing never changes ' he keeps winning. And winning.
He has had the same caddy, Peter Coleman, for 20 years now. He has gone from a power player to a fairly short, accurate hitter; changed putting styles too many times to remember; won in Europe and won in America, including two Masters titles. And there he is, an ever-present success story while those born about the same time as him have flared and flamed out.
When is it going to end? Langer doesnt really know. How do you say never in German?


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Rahm (62) takes early lead at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."