Monday, December 15, 2014


 Langers wins PNC Father/Son Challenge by two shots

Bernhard Langer and his son Jason after winning the PNC Father/Son Challenge Sunday at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. Picture by courtesy of Geoff Bolte (Replay Sports)

ORLANDO – Bernhard Langer stood on the first tee at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on Sunday morning and peered over the gallery ropes to his left, where about a dozen friends and members of his family had assembled, all wearing red Santa hats.
“So we’re in for a rowdy day today?” Langer said, almost to himself, alone on the back of the tee.
Bernhard Langer doesn’t do rowdy. He does steady, methodical, dependable, like a high-end Swiss watch. On Sunday at the PNC Father/Son Challenge, with his 14-year-old son Jason at his side, Langer did what he’s done better than any other 57-year-old on this planet has done all year long: Collect yet another victory.
Bernhard made three key putts to get the team off to a birdie-birdie-eagle start, and from there the Langers – dad and his youngest son, Jason – were steady enough to add nine more birdies en route to a 13-under 59 and two-stroke victory over Davis Love III and his son, Dru. 
It was the third victory in the event for Bernhard Langer, who’d won the first of his titles with his son Stefan in 2005 when Stefan was only 15. 
That seemed like a pretty big deal. And now Stefan’s little brother, an emergency fill-in when a bad back kept Christina Langer from competing alongside her dad this week, swooped in and won at an even younger age.
The victory was mostly good news for the Langers, who’d made the drive up from their home in south Florida, with the exception of Christina, who now will have to wait until 2016 to return to the event. 
Jason, of course, will get a shot at defending next December.
“Still one behind my brother,” Jason said, pulling a black Sharpie out of his pocket to sign a few crisp autographs on flags behind the 18th green.
This clearly was a special year for Bernhard, who dominated on the Champions Tour. He won five times, including two majors, and had 18 top 10s in 21 starts.
The German ace and former Ryder Cup captain ran ran away with the Charles Schwab Cup ... at the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl he won by 13 shots. And there was no better cherry on top of his season than to win with his youngest boy over two days in Orlando, where the team shot 23-under 121 over 36 holes in a two-man scramble.
“It was an unbelievable, magical week, just like the whole year,” said Bernhard. “I’ve been watching Jason play golf for several years now and he has played better the last two days than he has ever played in his whole life.”
The Loves, who won the championship two years ago, made a nice run with seven birdies on the closing nine, and even had a long look at eagle on the closing, par-5 18th, where they’d two-putt for birdie to finish at 21 under.
The Loves joined the Langers on Sunday with the tournament’s only other sub-60 score, a 59.
“We played well today,” said Davis Love III. “On Saturday , we were a little bit off. We both hit it well enough to win today, but the short game was a little off.”
Vijay Singh and his son, Qass, and Curtis Strange and his son, Tom, tied for third at 20 under par. Both teams made disappointing pars on the final hole.
Having birdied the par-4 16th, the Langers took a one-shot lead into the 18th hole, laid up, and tacked on one last birdie when Bernhard rolled in a 12-footer. The ball was barely off the face of his putter and he had his right fist triumphantly in the air. It’s been that kind of year.
“Bernhard’s swing looks as good as it’s ever looked, and he’s had great success around the greens,” said fellow Champions Tour player Hale Irwin. 
“He’s putting it very, very well, and anytime you putt well, it has such a positive effect on everything else.”
EDITOR: And to think that early in his pro career, Bernhard had 
a severe case of the yips.
Langer’s putting was borderline ridiculous on Sunday, and when he wasn’t knocking down a birdie (or eagle, which came from about 85 feet at No. 3), Jason was there to pick him up.
A high-school freshman, Jason made a long downhill putt for birdie at the fourth and ran in a 20-footer at No. 12 when the Langers, Singhs and Loves all were wrestling for the lead.
“I’m so proud of all the kids, really,” said Curtis Strange, whose son Tom, 33, made eagle on his own at the par-5 14th to pull the Stranges into contention. 
“Jason Langer's going to be a good player. He made a couple of bombs out there, and don’t think he didn’t help his dad. He was impressive.”
Nearly as impressive as dad Bernhard who, at 57, had a season he will not soon forget. 
In 2014, he hit 78.35 percent of his greens of regulation (a record), had a scoring average of 68.03, and earned more than $3 million. He called it one of the best three seasons of his entire career. 
Langer also has been named Champions Tour player of the year, voted upon by his peers, which should come as no real shock.
Father and son each received a Willie Park belt that is awarded to the winners, and Bernhard took home the winning pro’s share of $200,000. 
 Before he departed, he motioned over to his young son, smiled, and said, “I think his Christmas just got a little bigger.
Shaun O’Meara aced the 174-yard fourth hole, using a 7-iron, which was one of three eagles the O’Mearas (Shaun and dad Mark) made on the round. They shot 61.
 Raymond Floyd, Curtis Strange, Lee Trevino and Larry Nelson are the only players to have competed in all 17 of the Father-Son championships. 
Vijay and Qass Singh posted their fifth top-three finish in the event, but never have won.
Defending champions Stewart and Connor Cink tied for eighth. Bernhard Langer became the third player to win the PNC Father/Son with two different children, joining Floyd and Nelson. 
A deal was signed earlier in the week that will keep the PNC Father/Son at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for four more years.



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