By Ryan Herrington
To win the Senior British Open and add a 10th major to his already record total on the PGA Tour Champions, Bernhard Langer once again defied convention. This time, the 59-year-old took down the old axiom that you can’t win a golf tournament in the first round, you can only lose it.
With a two-under 69 on Thursday at Royal Porthcawl in Wales, in windy and rain conditions that saw the scoring average come in a 76.8, Langer established a lead that would not be topped. He then spent the next three days toying with the rest of the field, posting scores of 74-65-72 to win by three strokes over Corey Pavin.
It was Langer’s third Senior British Open title, going with wins at Carnoustie in 2010 and Porthcawl in 2014. The victory was also his third major triumph of 2017, letting him join Jack Nicklaus as just the second golfer to ever win three in one calendar year, the Golden Bear accomplishing the feat in 1991.
Langer’s latest triumph came amid his continued frustration over questions about his putting stroke. With the USGA coming out after the U.S. Senior Open earlier this month stating that he was in compliance with the 2016 ban on an anchored stroke, the German golfer hoped things will soon be put to rest. But whispers linger.
Langer was also under the weather in Wales, dealing with a sore throat that left him with laryngitis at the start of the week and limited his practice.
Lastly, there specter of a rare slip-up from Langer two weeks earlier at the Senior Players Championship, when he double bogeyed the 17th hole to squander a final-round lead and lose to Scott McCarron.
“I’m just going to enjoy the fruit of the labor, and to have won three majors in one season is pretty spectacular, and it actually could have been four if I didn’t mess up two weeks ago,” said Langer, who now has 33 career PGA Tour Champions wins, 12 behind all-time leader Hale Irwin. “But when you put yourself in that situation, you’re going to win some and you’re just going to lose some. That’s how it goes.”
As Langer’s list of superlatives grows, they’re worth repeat if only to help convince people that they’ve actually happened.
This is his fifth senior major victory since turning 58; only three other players in history had one a single senior major at that age (Tom Watson, Irwin and John Jacobs).
He has won his 10 senior majors in 48 starts, giving him a win percentage of 20.83. Meanwhile, for his career he has led or held a share of the lead after 42 of 192 rounds (21.88 percent).
That rate increases to 42.5 percent at the Senior British, where Langer has now led after 17 of 40 rounds. His worst finish in the event in 10 career starts is a T-12.