U.S. SENIOR OPEN
After Keeping Cut Streak Alive, Langer Shines on Saturday
June 30, 2018 | Colorado Springs, Colo.
By Mike Trostel, USGA
For the 50th consecutive time, Bernhard Langer is playing the weekend in a senior major championship. This time, however, he started Round 3 in an unusual position: 13 strokes off the lead.
But if making 50 straight cuts wasn’t enough of an achievement, get this: during that 11-year stretch he has 10 victories and has not finished worse than 22nd.
This week, however, nothing has seemed to go right for Langer. Rounds of 72 and 76 had the 2010 U.S. Senior Open champion discouraged and out of contention.
“I putted really poorly the last couple of days,” said Langer. “And I had some bad breaks yesterday.”
One of the bad breaks in Round 2 was his opening ball on the first hole – a shot that summed up his frustration.
“My first tee shot, I couldn't find the ball,” said Langer, who went on to double bogey the hole. “There were hundreds of people around. Nobody saw it. Pretty weird.”
Despite an eagle on the par-5 ninth, Friday didn’t get much better for Langer. He finished double bogey-bogey and made the cut on the number.
The pedestrian performance by the 60-year-old German put him in the second group off on Saturday morning, paired with 1978 U.S. Amateur champion John Cook. With smoother greens and an adjusted putting grip – he switched from “standard” to “claw” on his long putter – the results were finally to Langer’s liking: a 4-under-par round of 66.
What changed on Saturday?
“Well, when you play better, it seems easier,” said Langer, who made five birdies and one bogey. “The greens were pure and I made some putts today.”
In addition to putting better, Langer hit four more fairways (11) and greens (14) on Saturday than he did on Friday. That combination helped produce one of the lowest rounds of the day.
Unlike the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, however, when Saturday 66s by Tony Finau and Daniel Berger vaulted them 44 spots up the leader board and into the final pairing on Sunday, Langer’s 66 still has him well behind the leaders.
For Langer to add a second U.S. Senior Open title, he may need to channel his inner Allen Doyle, who, in 2005 charged to victory from nine strokes behind at NCR C.C. Does Langer think it’s still possible?
“I don't think I'm going to have a chance to win,” said Langer, who is playing in his 11th U.S. Senior Open. “But every place forward is better. I think I’m just a little too far back, but you never know.”
If anyone can achieve the improbable, Langer has proven he just might be the guy.
Mike Trostel is the senior content producer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.