Langer surges to win in SAS Championship

calexander@newsobserver.comOctober 8, 2012 

— Bernhard Langer took a lot away from Sunday's final round of the SAS Championship.

Langer used a near-flawless, 9-under-par 63 to surge from four shots behind and win by two over Jay Don Blake at Prestonwood Country Club. Not only did he take over the money lead on the Champions Tour, he now is atop the Charles Schwab Cup standings on the tour.

"Wow," Langer said, smiling. "A successful week."

Well, yes.

Coming to the Triangle this past week meant visiting with his oldest son, Stefan, a senior at UNC. Langer's wife and younger son, Jason, also were on the trip and Langer said the family had a pleasant dinner together Saturday night.

After an even-par 72 Saturday, Langer trailed co-leaders Fred Funk and Steve Pate by four shots. At the dinner, Jason, 12, reminded his father he was six shots back at the 3M Championship in early August and then won with a 10-under 62.

"My son said, 'Now you're only four behind. You shoot 8-under and you win. Sounds easy, right?" Langer said. "So I was out there trying to go 8-under, hoping it would be good enough."

Langer went one better, and with each of his nine birdies said he made eye-contact with Jason in the gallery.

"He was pointing -- five more, four more, three more ..." Langer said.

Langer, who one-putted 11 times Sunday, tied Funk for the lead with a birdie at the 13th hole. When Funk bogeyed the 11th hole, Langer had the lead alone and he pushed two shots ahead with a birdie at the 14th.

Langer said a 15-foot par putt at the par-4 16th was critical. It came after a quick glance at a leaderboard, which showed Blake making a move with birdies at the 14th and 15th holes.

“It was key at that point that I make the par save, at least for the momentum,” he said.

Langer two-putted from the fringe for birdie at the par-5 17th, then rolled in a seven-foot putt for a birdie at the 18th, celebrating with a couple of fist pumps and doffing his visor. Langer in at 13-under 203, but it wasn’t over.

Blake had a 16-foot eagle putt at the 17th hole that would have tied him for the lead. He settled for birdie, then clipped trees with both his drive and approach at the 18th, bogeying for a 68 and 205 finish.

Mark Wiebe, the 2007 SAS champion, closed third at 206 after a 68.

In the end Langer was too hot to catch. As Blake said, "The score Bernhard put up was pretty impressive."

Langer, 55, earned his 16th career Champions Tour win. The two-time Masters champion took over the Charles Schwab Cup lead with 2,208 points, passing Tom Lehman, and moved ahead of Michael Allen for the money lead with $1,818,896.

The start of Sunday's round was delayed 90 minutes by threatening weather, and the players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairways. It was cool and cloudy -- Bavarian type weather, if you will.

Langer's second victory of the year came a week after watching the European Ryder Cup team rally to edge the U.S. in the matches outside Chicago. Martin Kaymer of Germany clinched the Cup for Europe on Sunday with a clutch putt at the 17th hole, and credited a chat with Langer, his fellow countryman, the day before with giving him a more positive attitude.

"The Ryder Cup was extremely emotional for the European team and it's just great theater," said Langer, a former European captain. "It was so compelling, so exciting."

His round Sunday was pretty exciting, too.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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