Golf: Langer's eagle eye has him breezing ahead: Masters champion seizes his opportunity to lead the way as strong winds contrive to blow the pursuing pack off course

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The Independent Online
BERNHARD LANGER will have to go some today to match his performance here in 1987. Then, as a mere whipper-snapper, he put together one of the finest sequences of scores the Burma Road has ever seen in winning the PGA Championship by the record margin of 18 under par. As a matter of fact he did not do too badly yesterday.

Langer, the Masters champion and No 2 in the world to Nick Faldo, established a three-stroke lead going into today's final round. A gale swirled around Wentworth and some scores were in the eighties, most in the seventies and a couple in the sixties. Langer shot 67, a masterly score and on an aggregate of 206, 10 under par, he has pulled three strokes clear of Tony Johnstone, the defending champion, Mark James and Frank Nobilo. Colin Montgomerie is a stroke further back. Asked about his round, a very creditable 71, Big Monty threw, not for the first time, a tantrum. 'The press,' he ranted, 'should be out there watching.' Quite right. But watching whom?

Langer shot 69 in the second round - it left him three strokes adrift of James - and said that he had played 'pretty awful'. On Saturday he hit only three fairways in regulation. Yesterday, when conditions were twice as difficult, he missed only two fairways. He came home in 32 with an eagle at the 12th, a birdie at the 15th and another eagle at the 18th.

After his drive at the 12th, Langer had 210 yards to the green, into the wind. An additional obstacle was the presence of a number of trees. He took out the three-iron - the same club that helped him to produce a crucial eagle at the 13th hole in the final round of the Masters last month - closed the face, hooked his ball around the trees and it came to rest within seven feet of the flag.

At the last he hit a three-wood approach, from 239 yards, to about 15 feet from the flag and holed that putt too. Langer will be odds-on today to win his second PGA title and yesterday evening he was typically, and unduly, modest. 'I don't feel I'm swinging that well,' he said. 'Nick Faldo can miss the cut. It happens to all of us.' It rarely happens to Langer who has not missed a half-way cut on the European Tour in 27 events. Neither Faldo nor Seve Ballesteros could survive the cut here which was made at a severe level par.

The weather was so bizarre yesterday that some of the players ventured forth from the first armed, in between shots, with mittens. When they stood on the first tee they were hit in the face by winds of up to 40mph and a par at the opening hole (471 yards, par four) was so rare it was like gaining a stroke. Johnstone went at it with two drivers and was still short of the green. All the leaders, bar James, had either a bogey or a double bogey at the first.

The front nine were particularly intimidating although it did not seem to bother Peter Mitchell. He breezed to the turn in 32 which, under the circumstances, was perhaps even more impressive than Langer's inward nine. Mitchell shot 69 to stand at four under par for the championship. Standing is something that he does with great difficulty. Both knees are causing him considerable pain and he will consult a doctor today before the final round.

The Ryder Cup, at The Belfry in September, is not something that dominates Mitchell's thinking. 'I'm trying to nick a few bob when I can,' he said. The leading 35 players in the Johnnie Walker Ryder Cup points table have already been invited to have a fitting for the official, and numerous, team uniforms. Superstition has prevented all but a few from accepting the invitation.

Joakim Haeggman, the Swede who won the Spanish Open two weeks' ago, was fined pounds 250 for slow play in the third round. Haeggman, who was playing with Glen Day, was warned on two occasions and subsequently timed from the 14th hole from where he had five breaches against the stop watch. The common demoninator between Haeggman and Gary Evans, who was fined for slow play in the first round, is that both were playing with Day.

VOLVO PGA CHAMPIONSHIP (West Course, Wentworth): Leading third round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 206 B Langer (Ger) 70 69 67. 209 T Johnstone (Zim) 74 66 69; F Nobilo (NZ) 72 67 70; M James 68 68 73. 210 C Montgomerie 70 69 71. 212 P Mitchell 73 70 69; M McNulty (Zim) 72 71 69; R Rafferty 68 69 75. 213 D W Basson (SA) 68 75 70; E Romero (Arg) 71 71 71; C Mason 71 71 71; G Turner (NZ) 73 69 71; A Sherborne 68 72 73; G Brand Jnr 69 71 73; M Mouland 72 68 73; G Day (US) 72 67 74. 214 R Goosen (SA) 73 69 72; H Clark 69 73 72; G J Brand 73 67 74; J Haeggman (Swe) 70 69 75; A Oldcorn 70 68 76. 215 I Woosnam 72 72 71; P Fowler (Aus) 73 71 71; M Roe 73 70 72; J Berendt (Arg) 72 70 73; E Els (SA) 71 71 73; P Baker 69 72 74; S Tinning (Den) 69 72 74; P O'Malley (Aus) 68 71 76; J Parnevik (Swe) 70 68 77. 216 D Cooper 77 67 72; S Ames (Tri) 69 75 72; R Chapman 74 69 73; J Payne 72 70 74; A Murray 69 69 78; J Coceres (Arg) 70 67 79. 217 J Quiros (Sp) 74 70 73; S McAllister 72 72 73; S Torrance 69 75 73; J-M Olazabal (Sp) 74 70 73; R Willison 75 69 73; D Mijovic (Can) 68 76 73; V Singh (Fiji) 73 70 74; G Levenson (SA) 71 72 74; D Smyth 70 71 76; M Sunesson (Swe) 67 73 77. 218 W Westner (SA) 69 75 74; P McGinley 75 69 74; M Davis 71 72 75; J Van de Velde (Fr) 71 71 76; J Townsend (US) 70 72 76; P Senior (Aus) 73 69 76; W Riley (Aus) 70 71 77. 219 D Feherty 72 71 76; P-U Johansson (Swe) 70 73 76; M Lanner (Swe) 71 71 77; G Cali (It) 72 70 77; R Claydon 73 68 78. 220 S Richardson 72 72 76; J Higgins 73 71 76; S Lyle 72 72 76; G Evans 66 77 77. 221 J M Carriles (Sp) 71 72 78. 222 P Mayo 75 69 78. 225 T Levet (Fr) 70 74 81. 228 D Jones 73 71 84.

(Photograph omitted)

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