Langer back in familiar position winners circle

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Champions TourKAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii ' Bernhard Langer won the Champions Tours season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship on Sunday, closing with a 4-under 68 for a one-stroke victory over Andy Bean.
 
Langer, the 2008 Player and Rookie of the Year, had an 18-under 198 total to get his sophomore campaign off to a strong start and earn his fifth title in his 26th start on the 50-and-over circuit.
 
Bean, who had his second straight 66, surged into contention with four birdies in the first 10 holes but parred the final four. His 10-foot birdie try on 18 lipped out.
 
But the 51-year-old German wasnt flinching, even with the wind kicking up. Langer, who earned $315,000, was patient and focused.
 
From 144 yards in the first cut of rough, Langer stuck an iron to 20 feet and two- putted to seal the victory.
 
The two-time Masters winner owned the back nine at Hualalai. Of his 17 birdies in first two rounds, 12 of them were on the back nine.
 
The wind finally picked up along the Kona coast, which was blanketed by a haze from the volcanic fog spewing from across the island at Kilauea.
 
And the fog seemed to follow Brad Bryant, who was in command for the first two rounds and closed with a 75 to finish tied for eighth.
 
After birdieing two of the first three holes to reach 17 under, Bryant built a two-stroke cushion over Langer with 14 holes remaining.
 
Bryant then self-destructed with a quadruple-bogey 7 on the 205-yard fifth hole that propelled Langer to the outright lead at 15 under.
 
Oh no! Bryant shouted as his tee shot sailed right, into the pond.
 
After taking a drop, Bryant showed some indecision. He stepped back, chatted with his caddie before hitting into the water again.
 
The four-stroke collapse stunned the gallery and had Bryant talking to himself.
 
Bryant has faltered down the stretch before. Of the 10 previous final groups he had been in, Bryant has taken away just one trophy.
 
The frustration was evident after he pushed a 3-foot par putt on No. 11 that dropped him to 13 under. He stood on the green dejected, with his hands on his knees and head buried in his chest. It was the first of three straight bogeys.
 
Jay Haas, who began the day two strokes behind Bryant, also found trouble in the water on No. 5 for a costly double bogey that he wasnt able to recover from.
 
Haas (70) finished alone in third place for the third time in four years at the winners-only Hualalai. Mark McNulty (67) and Jeff Sluman (70) tied for fourth, four strokes back.
 
However, it was Langers round to lose.
 
Langer waved his arms as his 20-foot birdie putt crawled in on the 167-yard 12th to reach 18 under for a two-stroke advantage over Bean.
 
The lead disappeared when Langers tee shot found the sand on the next hole and Bean, playing one hole ahead, tapped in for birdie.
 
They were both at 17 under until Langer regained the lead for good by two-putting for birdie from 40 feet on the par-5 14th.
 
The 55-year-old Bean also is coming off a strong year. He had a nine-stroke win at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship and also won the Regions Charity Classic.
 
Gary Player bettered his age of 73 for the third straight day. He shot his second straight 71 after opening with a 70, and tied for 27th.
 

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