Fourth for Langer earns 20th shot at the US Open

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Last year's Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer has qualified for next week's US Open at Pinehurst.

Last year's Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer has qualified for next week's US Open at Pinehurst.

The twice Masters champion had two rounds of 67 in Columbus, Ohio, which ensured his 20th US Open appearance. His aggregate 134 easily saw him into the top 20, who all qualify, and left him just three shots adrift of the leader, Australian Geoff Ogilvy.

A total of 144 players competed for 20 places and Langer finished fourth. The Swede Carl Pettersson also made it through in joint sixth place. However, Welshman Phillip Price lost out in a seven-man play-off for the last six places.

Fredrik Jacobson missed that play-off by one stroke, Greg Owen and Justin Rose by two, Jose Maria Olazabal by three, Jesper Parnevik by seven, and Alex Cejka and Ireland's Richie Coughlan by 10.

In Maryland, the defending women's champion and grand slam-chasing Annika Sorenstam has two targets in her sights when she tees off in tomorrow's opening round of the LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock. The Swedish world No 1 attempts to become the first player to win the title three years in a row and also the first to win the opening two majors of the season since Pat Bradley in 1986.

Sorenstam could hardly be more confident, having clinched her fifth tournament in seven 2005 starts by four shots at the LPGA Classic in Atlantic City on Sunday. "This week is huge and one I've been looking forward to for a long time," the eight-times major winner said. "I couldn't have asked for a better preparation. I putted very well in Atlantic City and I feel prepared and ready."

The LPGA Tour, meanwhile, will institute play-offs next year, culminating with two players competing for $1m (£810,000) in the final round of the season.

The 2006 season will be split into two parts, with players earning points toward making the 32-player field at the ADT Championship at Trump International, which previously served as a Tour Championship.

Fifteen players from each half of the season and two wild cards will advance to the LPGA Play-offs. After 54 holes of stroke play, the top two will meet in an 18-hole showdown for $1m, nearly double the richest payoff in US women's golf.