Langer confirms his mastery of Wentworth

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The Independent Online
GOLF

As Bernhard Langer contemplated the final day of the Volvo PGA Championship, he was asked which was the worst round he had ever played at Wentworth. "I don't know," he replied, "I put that to the back of my mind." The intriguing thing was that no one else could link him with a bad one either.

Langer hardly ever performs poorly over the Burma Road. Other players suffer under the demands made on their game, the need to fade some shots into holes and to draw the ball in on others, but the German thrives on it. While no other player has won the PGA Championship at Wentworth twice, Langer yesterday took the title there for a third time.

It was a typically methodical round for Langer, whose record run of 57 European tournaments without missing the cut proves he is nothing if not reliable. The wind, barely existent at ground level, was capricious at anything above 20 feet. It played havoc with the leaders, none of whom made significant progress except for the winner, who quietly, unassumingly, got his one-under-par 71 and a one-stroke victory.

Langer, twice a Masters champion, gives the impression his savoir-faire on a golf course could survive an earthquake. He picked off his birdies - at the fifth, 11th and 14th - but, more importantly on a day when most dropped strokes, limited his bogeys to just two. That earned him a pounds 150,000 first prize, edging him ahead of New Zealand's Michael Campbell and Sweden's Per Ulrik Johansson.

"My caddie told me a five on the last would be enough to win it," Langer said. "So I laid up with my second and then gave myself a 15-foot putt to get down in two." The German's first attempt was less than perfect but, left with a tricky three-footer, right to left, he holed it with aplomb.

"It was never easy," Langer continued. "It was gusty, which meant even holes that were downwind and playing short were difficult to read. Nobody was able to make birdies over the last few holes, which meant I didn't have to go for them."

Apart from Campbell, who concluded with a 67, the resistance to Langer melted away. Mark Mouland, the joint overnight leader, held it together with eight straight pars, but the effort of fighting the conditions proved too much and he yielded three bogeys in the last 10 holes to finish on 283 in joint ninth place.

Nick Faldo was also a disappointment, failing to register a single birdie. Starting two shots behind Langer and Mouland, he stalled and then went backwards for a two-over-par 74 that left him four under on 284. Considering he was five under after the first round it was not a compelling performance.

Yet if the 1995 PGA Championship proved to be a disappointing experience for Faldo, it was deeply frustrating for the defending champion, Jose- Maria Olazabal. His start was brilliant (four birdies in the first six holes), but that made the conclusion even more harrowing.

Wentworth's final holes, particularly the par-five 17th and 18th, are ripe with potential, but the Spaniard crumpled from seven under to two under with the sort of figures - 5, 5, 7, 6 - that an 18-handicapper would have been less than happy to accept on his card. In the process he went into more wooded areas than a lumberjack.

"It was a terrible finish," he said. "I was playing solid until the 15th and then it all went wrong. I've had a terrible week on the greens."

Not quite as bad as Frank Nobilo, however. The New Zealander led at the halfway stage but plummeted like a stone in the final two rounds and clung on to a level par final score only because he had an eagle and a birdie in the last two holes. The dark glasses he is wearing to mask an eye infection made him look like a beaten boxer. But then his last scores of 77 and 75 had inflicted gruesome punishment.

FINAL ROUND SCORES FROM WENTWORTH

VOLVO PGA CHAMPIONSHIP (GB or Irl unless stated): 279 B Langer (Ger) 67 73 68 71. 280 M Campbell (NZ) 69 73 71 67; P-U Johansson (Swe) 71 69 69 71. 282 P O'Malley (Aus) 74 71 70 67; P Senior (Aus) 66 73 73 70; T Levet (Fr) 72 68 71 71; J Parnevik (Swe) 68 73 70 71; A Sherborne 68 69 72 73. 283 S Grappasonni (It) 72 69 71 71; C Montgomerie 70 72 69 72; M Mouland 72 71 65 75. 284 M A Jimenez (Sp) 73 69 71 71; R Boxall 72 71 70 71; G Orr 70 67 75 72; J M Canizares (Sp) 69 70 71 74; N Faldo 67 72 71 74. 285 J Lomas 74 68 74 69; P Price 72 73 71 69; S Lyle 74 71 71 69; S Ames (Trin) 74 69 72 70; P Eales 73 68 73 71; S Struver (Ger) 69 69 74 73; M Besanceney (Fr) 70 71 71 73; M James 73 72 67 73. 286 B Lane 74 70 73 69; J Haeggman (Swe) 73 72 72 69; P Baker 70 72 74 70; A Oldcorn 70 73 73 70; S Luna (Sp) 72 73 70 71; L Westwood 73 68 73 72; J M Olazabal (Sp) 69 72 72 73. 287 M Harwood (Aus) 75 70 75 67; M Roe 71 71 74 71; G Brand Jnr 73 69 71 74; M McLea 73 70 70 74; P Walton 70 68 74 75. 288 C Rocca (It) 72 70 77 69; M Clayton (Aus) 74 69 73 72; E Darcy 71 72 72 73; W Riley (Aus) 69 72 73 74; S Ballesteros (Sp) 72 73 69 74; F Nobilo (NZ) 68 68 77 75; R Goosen (SA) 72 67 74 75. 289 P McGinley 76 68 72 73; V Fernandez (Arg) 72 72 72 73; J Rivero (Sp) 74 66 75 74; M Lanner (Swe) 73 72 70 74; R Davis (Aus) 70 73 71 75. 290 D Clarke 71 70 82 67; M Gates 73 70 76 71; G Turner (NZ) 74 70 75 71; P Curry 70 72 75 73; J Townsend (US) 72 71 73 74; V Singh (Fiji) 72 70 73 75; R Karlsson (Swe) 72 72 70 76. 291 M Davis 70 75 74 72; I Garrido (Sp) 72 70 74 75; K Stables 74 71 71 75; P Mitchell 69 73 73 76. 292 D Cooper 72 72 75 73. 293 R Claydon 74 71 76 72. 294 J Van de Velde (Fr) 70 72 73 79; S Watson 75 69 71 79. 295 A Cejka (Ger) 72 72 77 74; W Westner (SA) 73 72 75 75. 297 P Fowler (Aus) 73 72 77 75. 300 Zhang Lian-wei (Ch) 70 72 78 80.

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