Bernhard Langer ties Hale Irwin for most PGA TOUR Champions wins with victory at Chubb Classic
4 Min Read
Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour
Bernhard Langer tied Hale Irwin for most wins in PGA TOUR Champions history (45) on Sunday at the Chubb Classic in a style that perfectly explains how the German was able to track down a record that once seemed unbreakable.
Which is to say the stoic Langer, 65, kept his head while those around him were losing theirs. He played his final round without a bogey, sprinkled in seven birdies and watched as such players as defending Schwab Cup champion Steven Alker, Schwab Cup runner-up Padraig Harrington and 14-time Champions Tour winner Fred Couples all had double bogeys on the back nine to fall off the pace.
It was a wild Sunday at the Tiburon Golf Club Black Course as seven players held at least a share of the lead. But Langer rolled in three putts of at least 20 feet for birdie on his back nine, including just the second birdie of the day at the par-4 17th. That putt pushed his lead to two strokes over Harrington and Steve Stricker, allowing him enough of a cushion as he came down the reachable par-5 18th.
“There's been a lot of talk about catching Hale for the last few years, and there's a lot of pressure, especially today when you get this close,” said Langer, who also birdied the 18th. “Then you have thoughts running through your mind, and you're going, wow, you're this close, you don't want to lose it now. But that's the wrong stuff to think. You've got to just focus on one shot at a time.”
Langer won for the second year in a row and fifth time overall at the Chubb Classic. It’s a course on which he believes he has an advantage, and the results bear it out.
“It's very gratifying, and I know there's only certain courses I think where I can win,” Langer said. “There's some courses where I have a hard time because of lack of distance. Let's face it, I'm not hitting it as far as these 50- or 52-year-olds, and there's some courses where I call them the bombers have such a big advantage where I have a hard time. But on a golf course like this that's very tight and not too long, I have a chance.”
Harrington had come from well back to seize the lead after carding a 6-under 29 on the front nine. But he made a mess of the par-4 14th, driving it into a hazard, leaving his second in the hazard and not reaching the green until his fourth shot.
“I did make a bit of a meal of the chip-out on the par-4,” Harrington said. “I was afraid of hitting a tree in the fairway and not getting it out twice. So look, yeah, the fact I had a good finish, I don't regret maybe that double as it is. Maybe tonight I will, though.”
Couples was 4 under for his round and in the thick of it when he reached the 11th hole. But he tripled the par 4 and proceeded to double the par-5 12th to end his chances.
Alker was 5 under for his round through 12 holes and tied for the lead when he doubled the par-4 13th.
Langer beat his age by a stroke with a first-round 64 that left him tied for the lead at 8 under with Paul Goydos. He was in the lead by himself by one entering Sunday’s final round after shooting a 70 on Saturday.
Langer extended his own record for the oldest player to win a PGA TOUR Champions event, and it was his 12th victory since turning 60.
Harrington and Stricker tied for second, three shots back. Stricker, who won the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, took the lead in the Schwab Cup standings.
But the Wisconsin native came away shaking his head over all Langer has accomplished.
“Yeah, it's amazing, isn't it? He continues to amaze us all,” Stricker said. “He just keeps going, and he stays in shape. He's just incredible, really. 45 wins, and he keeps winning, 65 years old, shot his age this week. I don't know, there's not much else you can say about him. And he's a nice person, too. That's, I think, the coolest part is he's a good guy, a nice guy, and to see the success that he's had is pretty cool.”