Golf: Langer in his element

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The Independent Online
Late on a sunlit, if not a warm evening, Bernhard Langer finally brought the blighted Benson & Hedges International to a close and emulated Michael Schumacher in a soggy sporting German double. Langer had to contend with fierce winds and occasionally torrential rain but it was the threat of thunderstorms which twice interrupted proceedings.

The second suspension of an hour and 40 minutes came as the leaders made the turn and was the cue for a queue to form at the exits. Only the hardiest of die-hard golf supporters remained as Langer's tenacity held off the challenge of Ian Woosnam and Lee Westwood. The German, who came home in 34, was the only man to break 70 which secured a two-shot win over Woosnam, with Westwood two further back.

Langer, who had been hoping to get the last plane home to spend a few hours of Mother's Day (German edition) with his family, won for the second week running and his pounds 116,660 prize takes him second in the Ryder Cup standings. Woosnam (sixth) and two potential rookies, Westwood (eighth) and Padraig Harrington (15th), six shots back in fourth, also promoted themselves favourably in the ranking.

"The break was good because when we came back the wind was only 10mph and it was a lot easier," said Langer, who a year ago was struggling with both his health and his putting. "Course strategy comes out more in these conditions and also the way you manage yourself. I am not out there screaming at the weather.''

Immediately on the resumption, Woosnam hit his nine-iron second shot at the 10th into the water, almost went in with his next and appeared to have fallen out of contention with a double bogey six. "I putted for 15 minutes but maybe I should have gone to the range," Woosie said. "I'm getting old. I was a bit stiff and just duffed it.''

From that moment, having earlier switched back from putting cack-handed to the conventional style, the Welshman's luck on the greens was transformed. He finished with five birdies, including at the last two. "If I had not taken that six, it could have been a different ball game," he added.

Westwood was on for the only round of the day not to include a dropped shot when he attempted to hit a driver across the water at the par-five 17th and came up short. "I'd hit a great drive and that gave me a chance to go for it but I caught it a bit thick," he said. "That was my chance gone." The bogey six gave him a 72. Until the rain delay, the 24-year- old Worksopian had matched Langer and a first win in Britain may be only weeks away.

The tournament's problems were not helped by being scheduled for a late finish anyway due to BBC TV's coverage. "Television give us our deadlines for the finish and they wanted 6.15pm," Andy McFee, the tournament director, said. A programme called the Land of the Eagle was cancelled, but the telly was off air well before the eventual finish.

The sponsors are hoping to move to a late summer date, a move supported by Colin Montgomerie, who long since had his feet up in front of the box. Despite again showing his dislike of playing in the wind, unlike most Scots, with a round of 81, Monty was the voice of reason. "This is a great course in great condition which has been spoilt by the weather," he said. Montgomerie's embarrassment of five-putting the second hole was compounded by having it witnessed by his Ryder Cup captain Seve Ballesteros.

BENSON AND HEDGES INTERNATIONAL OPEN (The Oxfordshire, Thame): Final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 276 B Langer (Ger) 70 66 71 69. 278 I Woosnam 70 68 70 70. 280 L Westwood 69 69 70 72. 282 P Harrington 73 67 71 71. 283 R Karlsson (Swe) 71 71 70 71; K Vainola (Fin) 70 69 71 73. 284 P Sjoland (Swe) 69 69 74 72; B May (US) 69 72 71 72; F Tarnaud (Fra) 75 69 67 73; D Clarke 69 68 72 75; E Romero (Arg) 73 65 71 75. 285 T Bjorn (Den) 71 70 70 74. 286 D Gilford 71 72 70 73; G Turner (NZ) 67 68 77 74; C O'Connor Jnr 68 74 70 74; J Spence 71 73 68 74. 288 N Fasth (Swe) 70 72 72 74; R Goosen (SA) 69 67 76 76. 289 A Oldcorn 75 69 74 71; M Mouland 74 67 74 74. 290 W Westner (SA) 73 70 72 75; M James 73 70 71 76. 291 P Hedblom (Swe) 71 73 73 74; I Pyman 72 69 75 75; M A Jimenez (Sp) 72 69 75 75; S Luna (Sp) 70 70 75 76; C Suneson (Sp) 70 71 74 76; P McGinley 72 71 72 76. 292 P Lawrie 70 73 75 74; S Ballesteros (Sp) 72 69 76 75; S Struver (Ger) 73 70 74 75; P Mitchell 69 71 76 76; I Garrido (Sp) 71 70 74 77; R McFarlane 70 66 78 78. 293 S Ames (Trin) 74 70 77 72; S Webster 72 72 76 73; R Green (Aus) 75 69 74 75; D Cooper 71 73 73 76; S Field 75 69 73 76. 294 E Canonica (It) 73 71 79 71; G Brand Jnr 75 69 73 77; G Orr 70 74 73 77; I Feliu (Sp) 72 71 72 79; R Willison 73 71 71 79; J Murray 73 69 72 80. 295 O Karlsson (Swe) 75 67 80 73; P Eales 71 71 77 76; A Coltart 69 75 75 76; P Quirici (Swit) 71 71 75 78; D Tapping 74 69 74 78; P Walton 73 71 72 79. 296 S Torrance 74 70 77 75; R Davis (Aus) 73 71 76 76; I Garbutt 74 67 77 78; T Gogele (Ger) 76 67 75 78; J Lomas 69 72 75 80. 297 P Broadhurst 70 73 78 76; S Cage 74 70 74 79. 298 J Payne 72 71 78 77; D Howell 70 71 77 80; J Haeggman (Swe) 72 70 76 80; J Coceres (Arg) 71 69 77 81; C Montgomerie 70 71 76 81. 299 M Jonzon (Swe) 74 70 76 79; S Allan (Aus) 72 72 76 79. 301 G Emerson 71 71 79 80. 302 D Lee 73 71 78 80. 303 I Mosey 73 70 80 80.

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