Langer went to the hole leading by three shots and hit his ball down the middle of the fairway, only to find it in a heavily sanded divot. The German called for the referee, but was not allowed relief and struck his pitch into the water guarding the green. Langer eventually took a double-bogey six.
That meant a round of 69 to end one shot ahead of Jose Maria Olazabal and Thomas Gogele and two ahead of Colin Montgomerie, Per-Ulrik Johansson, Thomas Bjorn, Andrew Coltart, Jamie Spence and Patrik Sjoland.
"The referee would not allow me a free drop. There was obviously too much sand in the divot hole which had not been repaired properly," Langer said.
Montgomerie, playing with Langer, agreed he had been "very unfortunate" to land in the divot, a shot that could have far more serious consequences than just a reduced lead. Langer is pounds 87,000 behind Montgomerie in the official money list and needs to win the first prize of pounds 125,000 to improve his chances of finishing as European No 1.Reuse content