Bernhard Langer birdied four consecutive holes to begin his second nine, made a birdie on the 18th to get into a playoff with Woody Austin and Kevin Sutherland, then birdied the 18th again to win the playoff.
SNOQUALMIE — Never doubt Bernhard Langer, no matter how dire the situation might seem.
Things looked bleak for the German superstar after his first nine holes Sunday in the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, when he was 1 over on his final round, six shots behind the leader and tied for 14th place.
But Langer, who turned 59 Saturday, birdied four consecutive holes to begin his second nine, made a birdie on the 18th to get into a playoff with Woody Austin and Kevin Sutherland, then birdied the 18th again to win on the first playoff hole.
“Things weren’t going very well for me earlier today,” said Langer, who made a couple of long par putts on the front nine that proved to be critical. “But I had a different swing thought after my tee shot on No. 8. I realized what I was doing wrong. So from the ninth hole on … I gave myself great opportunities. Hit it pretty close a number of times.”
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Langer joined Tom Kite as the only players to win this event twice. He also won here in 2010, the same year he won the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish. And it was his 29th career victory on the 50-and-over Champions Tour, tying Lee Trevino for second most (Hale Irwin leads with 45).
“I always wanted to tie him,” joked Langer, who finished at 13-under 203 and made $300,000.
Langer’s biggest feat might have been his birdie on the final hole of regulation. His second shot on the par-5 took a bad bounce into the bunker.
“That bunker shot was impossible,” Langer said. “I didn’t think I had a prayer, but I landed the bunker shot right in the fringe and it kind of killed it and it just trickled down the hole to about 5, 6 feet or so, and I made a really good putt.”
On the playoff hole, Sutherland hit his tee shot into the bunker and ended up just missing a 40-foot putt for a birdie from the fringe. Austin went for the green with his second shot, but it went into the right bunker. He hit a good bunker shot to 10 feet away but missed the putt.
“The thing about 18, especially with the flag in the front, if you go for the green (on your second shot), you can’t miss the green,” Austin said. “But you’re trying to win the tournament; you’re not going to lay up.”
Austin’s missed putt left Langer, who chipped just past the hole with his third shot, needing to make a 3-footer to win, which he calmly did.
Sutherland had the best round of the tournament, an 8-under 64. After making pars on the first five holes, he made eight birdies on the final 13.
“I’m disappointed now, but I played tremendous golf,” Sutherland said.
Also disappointed was second-round leader Gene Sauers, who opened a four-shot lead after making birdies on his first two holes. Sauers was still leading at 13 under through his first nine holes (Langer was 7 under through 9), but he made four bogeys on his final nine and finished one shot out of the playoff.
“I didn’t make any putts today,” Sauers said. “One of them days, I guess.”
Even while struggling early in his round and falling further behind, Langer never gave up.
“The game is so crazy,” he said. “I’ve seen just about it all. I blew tournaments when I had a lead, and I’ve come from seven behind, so you just never know. … I started hitting perfect shots.”
|At par-72 TPC Snoqualmie Ridge|