Alone Among Europes Finest Langer Just Keeps Rolling On
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?
Tiger putts way into contention at The Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.
Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.
“I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”
The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.
Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.
“I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”
TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:
• THAT WAS AWESOME!
At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.
• Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.
• This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.
• One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.
• On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.
• Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.
• One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.
• In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”
Yes, yes it is.
Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open
It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.
Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:
Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.
Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3
Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.
Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.
No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.
No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.
No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.
No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.
No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.
And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.
Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.
Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.