Déjà Langer: Bernhard Langer ties Nicklaus for most Champions majors
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
HOOVER – Bernhard Langer established himself as one of the greatest PGA Tour Champions players of all time on Sunday, May 21, as the 59-year-old professional golfer won his eighth major championship on the Tour at the Regions Tradition, which matched none other than Jack Nicklaus.
Even crazier, Langer matched that 8-win major total in almost the same amount of time it took the greatest golfer of all time to do so. Nicklaus won his eight between 1990-1996, while Langer pulled off his eighth in the first major of 2017 after picking up his first in 2010.
“That’s pretty neat,” Langer said after the historic win. “Not many people can say they’ve matched Jack Nicklaus in anything and to have as many majors on this tour as he has is outstanding obviously and a thrill for me, but I’m still way behind on the regular tour in majors.”
He pulled off the impressive feat after firing a final-round 64, the lowest round of the week, to get to 20-under par. Last year Langer grabbed the first major of the year at the Regions as well after destroying the field for a six-shot win.
While, he only won by five this year, he was head and heels above anyone else in the field and bested his four-day total of 17-under last year, by making it to 20-under this year.
“I didn’t think it would have to be that low,” Langer said of his 64. “Once I got to 17 (under) I just tried not to think about the outcome and my goal was to get to 20. I had a two-or-three-shot lead and knew if I could get near 20 they wouldn’t catch me.”
The big turning point in the round came at the 12th hole. Up to that point, Langer and Fred Funk, who had held the lead after the previous two rounds, were tied atop the leaderboard at 16-under.
An errant drive by Funk on the hole sent his ball toward the left-hand side of the fairway where it hit just to the left or a fairway bunker and took an awkward and terrible kick to the left before finding its way out of bounds.
Funk re-teed his ball and put his next one right down the middle, but the damage was already done as he went on to triple bogey the hole, while Langer was able to hit two beautiful shots before rolling in a birdie putt for a four-shot swing.
“I never hit it out of bounds, even on the tightest hole,” Funk said of the blunder. “I don’t know what happened, that was just a weird deal. It doesn’t make since, I don’t know how I hit a drive that bad, it baffles me.”
Langer took advantage of the moment and not only birdied that hole, but birdied the next two for three in a row to really put the clamp down on the rest of the field.
“Obviously it was huge for me and terrible for Fred,” Langer said of the swing. “Up to that point it was neck-to-neck and there were plenty of holes to be played so nobody really had their nose in front by a great deal.”
He went on to shoot a 32 coming in, which helped establish him as the 2017 Regions Tradition champion as he took home the year’s first major championship on the tour.
Langer shot 3-under on Thursday as he got off to a slow start and followed that up with another 69 on Friday, which put him six shots off Funk’s lead heading into the weekend, but he was able to pull of rounds of 66 and 64. That total of 130 is tied for the best closing 36 holes in the tournament’s history as he is in the midst of Nicklaus in that category as well.
It also meant the first time Langer was able to come from behind on Sunday to win a major championship as he held at least a share of the lead in the previous seven.
He now has eight top 10’s in nine starts on the tour this season and holds a commanding lead in the Charles Schwab Cup standings after the win.
Scott McCarron and Scott Parel finished in a tie for second at 15-under, while Marco Dawson and Funk finished at 14-under in a tie for fourth.
Langer now has 31 wins on the PGA Tour Champions, which is in second behind Hale Irwin’s 45, but the way he was dialed in with seemingly every club in his bag, he will inch up that list throughout the remainder of the year.