Notebook, Round 4: US Senior Open

August 01, 2010
Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR staff

• Final Leaderboard: 1 -- Bernhard Langer (-8/272); 2 -- Fred Couples (-5/275); T3 -- Olin Browne (-2/278), John Cook (-2/278); 5 -- Tom Watson (+1/281); T6 -- Michael Allen (+2/282), Peter Senior (+2/282)

• Today's Weather: Sunny in the afternoon with highs in the mid-70s and light winds from the NW at 5-10 mph.

Bernhard, Langer • Bernhard Langer became the first USGA champion from Germany, posting four straight rounds in the 60s at Sahalee Country Club including a bogey-free 67 on Sunday, to win the U.S. Senior Open by three strokes over Fred Couples who was making his first appearance in the championship. Langer thwarted Couples' bid to win the prestigious event in his hometown of Seattle. After Couples took the early lead in the final round with a short birdie putt at No. 1, the championship took a dramatic turn at the par-5 2nd hole and the eventual outcome was decided after a four-stroke swing on the hole. After laying up with his second shot, Couples' hit a wedge fat into the pond next to the green. Couples dropped under penalty and his fifth shot went over the green. He then chipped back to eight feet, missed the putt, and made triple-bogey. After hitting the green at No. 2 in two shots, Langer two-putted from 15 feet for a birdie and was suddenly the leader by three strokes. After both players birdied No. 3, Langer extended his margin to four shots with a birdie at the par-4 6th hole. Couples managed to get within two strokes after birdies at No. 14 and No. 16, but a bogey at the final hole gave Langer a three-stroke winning margin.

• After going winless in his first 12 appearances in major championships on the Champions Tour, Langer became the first player since Tom Watson in 2003 (Senior British Open/JELD-WEN Tradition) to claim consecutive majors and also multiple major titles in a season on the Champions Tour. Langer also became the first player since Jay Haas in 2008 (Senior PGA Championship /Principal Charity Classic) to win back-to-back events.

• On the PGA TOUR, Langer won back-to-back events once in his career. In 1985, Langer won the first of two Masters Tournaments and then followed with a victory at the Sea Pines Heritage Classic. In 2009 on the Champions Tour, he also won in consecutive starts, claiming the Triton Financial Classic and then the 3M Championship.

• Langer played in 20 U.S. Opens and his best finish in the championship was a T4 in 1987 at The Olympic Club. His previous-best finish in a U.S. Senior Open was T6 in 2008 at The Broadmoor.

• Today's win by Langer marks the first time since 1997 that there are foreign-born winners in both the U.S. Open (Graeme McDowell/Northern Ireland) and U.S. Senior Open. 13 years ago, Ernie Els (South Africa) won the U.S. Open and Graham Marsh (Australia) claimed the U.S. Senior Open.

Year(s) Player Country
1980 Robert De Vicenzo Argentina
1987, 1988 Gary Player South Africa
1994 Simon Hobday South Africa
1997 Graham Marsh Australia
2008 Eduardo Romero Argentina

• Langer becomes the first international player with multiple major titles in a season on the Champions Tour since 1988 when South African Gary Player claimed the Senior PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open and Senior British Open, an unofficial event at the time, all in the same year Here's a list of the other foreign-born U.S. Senior Open champions:

• Langer becomes the first player on the Champions Tour this year to claim four victories, matching his number of official titles last year. Langer has now won 12 times in his Champions Tour career in 58 starts and ranks T20 on the all-time wins list.

• Today Langer finished posting four rounds in the 60s for the first time in his Champions Tour career and he became just the fifth player in U.S. Senior Open history to record four straight rounds in the 60s. Here's a list of the other four players who have posted four straight sub-70 scores:

Year Player Scores Venue
2009 Fred Funk 68-67-68-65268 Crooked Stick Golf Club
2006 Allen Doyle 69-68-67-68272 Prairie Dunes Country Club
1995 Tom Weiskopf 69-69-69-68275 Congressional Country Club
1987 Gary Player 69-68-67-66270 Brooklawn Country Club

• Langer earned a whopping 940 Charles Schwab Cup points for his win today at the U.S. Senior Open and increased his lead in the season-long race. Bernhard Langer now has 2,390 Schwab Cup points while Couples is in second place, 397 points back. Points are awarded throughout the year based on top-10 finishes and dollar amounts won in events on a per-thousand basis ($100,000 equals 100 Charles Schwab Cup points). In addition to double points at the three remaining major championships this year, the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship also offers double points to those players who register a top-10 finish at Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco.

• Langer earned a check for $470,000 and moved ahead of Fred Couples on the 2010 money list with $1,710,112. Langer is bidding to win an unprecedented third consecutive Arnold Palmer Award given to the Champions Tour's leading money-winner at the end of the official season.

• Langer did not have a three-putt green for the entire week. Here's a synopsis of his other stats this week and last week in winning the Senior British Open at Carnoustie:

Event Driving Distance Driving Accuracy Greens In Regulation Putts
Senior British 255.0 (47) 42/56 (T4) 42/72 (T23) 28.3 (T7)
U.S. Senior Open 287.6 (T11) 37/56 (T11) 52/72 (T3) 29.3 (T6)

Other Notes • Fred Couples has now finished second in both of his major championship starts on the Champions Tour. Along with David Frost, he lost in a playoff to Tom Lehman at the Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club near Denver. He did not play in the Senior British Open at Carnoustie.

• Olin Browne's bogey-free 5-under 65 today matched the low round of the event and his front-nine score of 5-under 30 was the low-9 this week. Browne's performance at this year's U.S. Senior Open was the best overall finish of his Champions Tour career. It was also his best effort since a T2 at the 2005 Valero Texas Open on the PGA TOUR.

• John Cook's T3 at this year's U.S. Senior Open gives him a total of five top-5 performances in the 13 senior major championships he's played thus far in his Champions Tour career. Cook's best efforts thus far in majors on the circuit were runner-ups at the 2007 Senior British Open and 2009 JELD-WEN Tradition.

• Tom Watson's final-round 66 led to a fifth-place finish in this year's U.S. Senior Open, his sixth overall top-5 performance in this championship. Watson is the first player over age 60 to finish among the top-five in a U.S. Senior Open since 61-year-old Jack Nicklaus was T4 at Salem Country Club in 2001.

Field scoring averages at the U.S. Senior Open since 2000:
Year Course Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Rd. 4 Cumulative To par
2010 Sahalee CC 76.727 76.493 72.985 72.463 75.410 (+5.410)
2009 Crooked Stick GC 74.397 75.371 72.532 71.935 74.117 (+2.117)
2008 The Broadmoor 75.083 75.694 72.000 73.148 74.589 (+4.589)
2007 Whistling Straits 76.289 75.475 75.389 76.014 75.828 (+3.828)
2006 Prairie Dunes CC 74.917 75.266 71.328 70.902 73.968 (+3.968)
2005 NCR CC 74.245 74.209 72.625 72.500 73.739 (+2.739)
2004 Bellerive CC 75.155 74.092 72.267 72.383 73.981 (+2.981)
2003 Inverness Club 77.961 76.810 73.983 73.283 76.336 (+5.336)
2002 Caves Valley GC 76.799 75.474 73.175 72.651 75.200 (+4.200)
2001 Salem CC 76.622 74.869 72.984 73.469 75.014 (+5.014)
2000 Saucon Valley CC 74.619 75.129 72.388 72.224 74.099 (+3.099)

• The most difficult hole this week at Sahalee was the par-4, 443-yard, 8th hole, playing to a stroke average for the field of 4.565 (+4.565). It's now the hardest hole on the Champions Tour thus far in 2010, surpassing the par-4, 12th at Carnoustie last week (4.503) during the Senior British Open. The 8th hole yielded just 17 birdies for the week. At the 1998 PGA Championship, No. 8 was the third hardest hole for the week (4.356) and at the 2002 NEC Invitational, the hole ranked as the second hardest (4.314).

• "Yeah, it still has to sink in. It's hard to believe I won two back to back majors with an eight hour time change in between and two very challenging golf courses. I'm very pleased. I've probably played some of my best golf these last two weeks from tee to green, as well as on the green." -- Bernhard Langer

• The Champions Tour returns to the Seattle area in three weeks for the Boeing Classic at the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. Currently, 47 of the players in this week's U.S. Senior field including Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer will play in the event, August 23-29.