Unfortunately, Langer Proves His Point

Four-Stroke Lead Quickly Disappears; 2010 Champion Finishes Second

Bernhard Langer acknowledges the crowd on No. 18. He shot 2-over 72 to finish in a tie for second. (John Mummert/USGA)
By Dave Shedloski
July 15, 2012


Lake Orion, Mich. – The difficulty in protecting a 54-hole lead in professional golf, particularly in major championships, has been one of the prominent stories in the game this year. Even someone as dependable as Bernhard Langer can struggle with the pressure of expectations.

Langer entered the final round of the U.S. Senior Open Sunday with a commanding four-stroke lead, and to a man his peers swore that the laconic German would not back up and allow anyone to catch him.

Those prognostications proved wrong. A player might be dependable, and he might have major championships under his belt, but golf is an exercise in managing unpredictability and misses.

And the unpredictable became the unmanageable Sunday at Indianwood Golf & Country Club, and Langer was relegated to runner-up in the championship he had won just two years earlier.

“You can easily lose four shots in not 18 holes, you can lose it in six holes or whatever,” said Langer, 54, who closed with a 2-over 72 and finished at 8-under 272, tied for second with Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin and 2009 U.S. Senior Open winner Fred Funk, two strokes behind Roger Chapman. “It's happened before, and it will happen again. So I knew that.”

Langer, a two-time Masters champion and winner of the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle, actually saw three of his four strokes dissolve in two holes. An errant drive into the right rough at the par-4 second initiated a series of errors that cost him a double bogey. Combined with Chapman’s birdie at the same hole, Langer’s lead was a mere shot before he had broken a sweat.

“It just kind of went from bad to worse,” said Langer, who has not won a tournament in 17 months after injuring his thumb in late 2010, which eventually required surgery last year.

With the winds kicking up on Indianwood’s Old Course, Langer struggled with his swing and his putting stroke, both of which had been so formidable the day before when he fired a championship-low 6-under 64. So precise for three days, Langer missed five greens in regulation Sunday after missing just four in the first 54 holes.

The other contenders noticed quickly that Langer was vulnerable.

“It was fun to get in the mix. I didn't really expect Bernhard to come backwards,” Funk said. “I saw he was 2 over pretty early, I think after his first four. Well, now we got a game on.”

Chapman had the same thought when he looked on the scoreboard at the third green and noticed Langer 2 over par.

“I don't know whether he made it the first two holes, bogey, bogey, or double. So all of a sudden he’s back to 8, and I’m 7. So I thought, wow, ‘It's game on,’” the champion said. “There was a whole bunch of guys. John Huston was up there, Fred Funk was making a move. So it was going to turn out to be a really good afternoon’s golf.”

Langer, who has 42 European Tour wins and has added 14 Champions Tour titles since he turned 50 in 2007, admitted that he failed to adjust to the changing conditions.

“I just didn't feel comfortable with that wind,” he said. “The wind was out of the west today, a totally different golf course. Didn’t seem to suit my eye as well as the wind we've had all week from the south. And finally, I hit some really good shots coming home and at least finished tied for second.”

Indeed, Langer didn’t quit, making birdie on three of his last four holes. When his 12-footer at the last found the cup, he pumped his fist.

A fighter to the bitter end. And it was bitter.

“My goal was to shoot under par. I said yesterday, if I shoot 1 or 2 under, it will be hard for the other guys to catch me, and I didn't do that,” Langer said morosely. “It was for me to win the championship. If I had shot 1 or 2 under, I would have won the championship, but I just didn't play well enough to do that.”

No consolation, but he has plenty of company.

Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites. 




Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @usopengolf
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment

AmEx image