Golf: Langer proves a master of the long play

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The Independent Online
Bernhard Langer defeated Gordon Brand Jnr at the second hole of a play-off to win the Dutch Open in Noordwijk yesterday after a rule infringement had deprived Mike McLean of a title he had in his keeping.

McLean birdied the last hole to end with a final round of 70 and finish one shot clear of Langer and Brand Jnr. However, McLean had improved his lie at the 11th by touching a growing plant beside his ball and was penalised two shots. McLean was shown a replay of the incident by the tournament director, Mike Tate, and driven to the spot where the incident occured.

The rules state that a golfer cannot improve his lie by 'moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed'. As the offending object was, indeed, growing a two-stroke penalty was imposed.

Instead of collecting the winner's cheque for pounds 100,000, McLean had to settle for pounds 33,870 for a share of third place with Gary Evans. 'I'm absolutely sick,' McLean said. 'It was an innocent mistake. Unfortunately I'm no Percy Thrower. I don't know anything about bushes.'

Langer shot a closing round of 72 to finish 11 under par for the tournament at 277. Brand Jnr, who had recorded the hole-in-one of the event on Saturday, produced yesterday's best score of 67 to force the play-off.

Langer sunk a short putt on the second extra hole while Brand Jnr struggled to make the green with his fourth stroke after chipping his second behind the grandstand.

Langer, who had squandered a two-shot lead at the start of the day, said: 'I believed all day I would win and then it all turned around,' he said. 'It's very weird. It still hasn't sunk in. It was the most unusual victory I've ever had, that's for sure.'

DUTCH OPEN (Noordwijkse) Leading final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 277 B Langer (Ger) 68 68 69 72; G Brand Jnr 72 71 67 67 (Langer wins at second hole of sudden-death play- off). 278 G Evans 70 67 71 70; M McLean 69 67 70 72. 279 D Cooper 73 68 68 70; P Stewart (US) 69 75 63 72. 280 W Westner (SA) 71 71 68 70; P-U Johansson (Swe) 71 72 65 72; M Mouland 68 66 72 74. 281 D Feherty 71 68 73 69; G Day (US) 71 68 72 70; E Darcy 71 66 73 71; G Turner (NZ) 71 69 69 72; R Winchester 68 71 69 73. 282 D Smyth 71 70 71 70; M Jiminez (Sp) 72 72 68 70; C Montgomerie 71 69 71 71; V Singh (Fiji) 71 70 70 71; G Norman (Aus) 68 69 71 74. 283 A Forsbrand (Swe) 75 69 69 70; D Basson (SA) 72 70 70 71; P O'Malley (Aus) 72 71 68 72; J Rivero (Sp) 71 68 71 73; H Clark 69 72 69 73. 285 F Nobilo (NZ) 72 70 70 73; J van de Velde (Fr) 71 71 69 74. 286 P Way 75 69 71 71; P Mitchell 71 71 72 72; B Lane 71 70 72 73; D Gilford 72 72 70 72; J Payne 73 71 69 73. 287 C Moody 73 68 74 72; R Davis (Aus) 73 70 72 72; S Field 74 70 71 72; R Claydon 72 72 71 72; R Karlsson (Swe) 75 70 70 72; T Johnstone (Zim) 75 70 70 72; D Mijovic (Can) 72 71 71 73. 287 M Roe 72 69 72 74; E Els 74 68 71 74. 288 M Pinero (Sp) 74 70 75 69; G Ralph 73 70 74 71; F Lindgren (Swe) 76 69 70 73; D Jones 73 72 69 74; M Martin (Sp) 74 70 70 74. 289 A Sorensen (Den) 73 69 74 73; J Rystrom (Swe) 72 70 73 74; J Hobday 71 70 73 75; K Waters 71 69 72 77. 290 A Hunter 73 71 73 73; R Lee 70 72 74 74; P Baker 77 67 72 74; P Price 75 68 73 74; A Murray 74 71 71 74; R Hartman (US) 71 73 71 75; J Woof 73 72 70 75. 291 H Baiocchi (SA) 71 71 74 75; S Hamill 74 71 71 75; R Drummond 72 70 72 77. 292 J Sewell 71 73 73 75; D Silva (Por) 71 72 71 78. 293 B Gallacher 74 71 74 74; R McFarlane 73 71 74 75; D J Russell 74 70 74 75; T Charnley 73 71 73 76; J Quiros (Sp) 73 71 73 76; V Fernandez (Arg) 70 74 71 78. 294 J Parnevik (Sp) 75 70 73 76.

ORDER OF MERIT (GB or Irl unless stated): 1 N Faldo pounds 365,319; 2 T Johnstone (Zim) pounds 266,967; 3 J M Olazabal (Sp) pounds 264,023; 4 A Forsbrand (Swe) pounds 261,658; 5 B Langer (Ger) pounds 221,805; 6 C Montgomerie pounds 211,780; 7 G Brand Jnr pounds 195,645; 8 P Senior (Aus) pounds 186,599; 9 J Rivero (Sp) pounds 186,535; 10 I Woosnam pounds 157,723; 11 V Singh (Fiji) pounds 146,844; 12 D Gilford pounds 146,750; 13 G Evans pounds 138,643; 14 P O'Malley (Aus) pounds 138,391; 15 M Martin (Sp) pounds 131,711; 16 P Mitchell pounds 124,641; 17 S Ballesteros (Sp) pounds 124,288; 18 C O'Connor Jnr pounds 124,168; 19 S Lyle pounds 122,740; 20 R Rafferty pounds 120,618.

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