February 15, 2016
Neither age nor a new putting style has caught up with Bernhard Langer.
And this weekend, neither did his PGA Tour Champions foes.
Langer won the Chubb Classic on Sunday for his 26th Champions Tour title, closing with a 1-over 73 for a three-stroke victory.
Seven strokes ahead after opening with rounds of 62 and 66, the 58-year-old German star finished at 15 under 201 at TwinEagles. He also won in 2011 and 2013, was second in 2012 and tied for second in 2014.
Fred Couples had a 66 to finish second.
Rivals thought they caught a break when Langer had to change to non-anchored putting stroke this year.
The feeling was it would take him awhile to adjust.
It took him just three tournaments.
But Langer had concerns and that showed when he had 15 putters on the practice green this week.
''Whenever you make a drastic change or a change of some sort, you never know,'' said Langer, who used a long putter. ''I'm 58 now, so if you look at the statistics, a lot of guys don't win when they're near 60. But I still think I have some good golf left in me and I'm glad the way I putted this week was probably better than I putted many weeks last year when I was anchored.
''That gives me hope that I can probably pursue with this style and still do very, very well.''
Langer completed his sixth wire-to-wire triumph. He's second on the 50-and-over tour's victory list, behind Hale Irwin (45) and Lee Trevino (29).
Using an approach of smart-aggressive, Langer went 1-over through his first 10 holes before getting a birdie on No. 11. He thought he made some solid shots early as he battled a 15-20 mph crosswind.
''I actually played extremely well starting off the first whatever, seven, eight holes, I hit a lot of quality golf shots,'' he said.
Couples drew within two shots with a birdie on 17 and Langer's bogey on 15.
''Well, I played pretty darn well,'' Couples said. ''I haven't played in a little while and I hit the ball very, very solid the whole week.
''I needed obviously a better round yesterday, that's what kind of killed me.''
As he stood over his birdie putt on No. 18, Couples had a pretty good idea he still trailed by two shots.
''I don't ever think that way, but at that particular time I thought I'm going to give this an extra boost and I wasn't even close,'' he said.
He hit his putt 12 feet past the hole. His par attempt missed.
The tournament was Langer's.
''That (66 was a) really good score, really, really good score today,'' Langer said. ''I kept an eye on the leaderboard and I didn't want anybody to catch me.''
Round 2 - Bernhard Langer stretches lead to seven
February 14, 2016
Kenny Perry calls Bernhard Langer ''The Germinator.''
''Is he human?'' Perry asked.
PGA Tour Champions rivals have to be wondering about the 58-year-old German star.
Langer followed his opening 10-under 62 with a 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to seven strokes in the PGA Tour Champions' Chubb Classic at TwinEagles.
Langer's lead is the largest in the event after 36 holes. At 16-under 128, he's closing in on the tournament-record 20-under total that he set in 2011 and Perry matched in 2012.
Langer won the event in 2011 and 2013. The two-time Masters champion has 25 victories on the 50-and-over tour.
''I know when things go great, it's unbelievable the scores that can be produced,'' Langer said. ''I once won a tournament by 17 shots. When everything gets going, you know, I can go low. But there's still a couple of hiccups out there, which I got away with. Like the tee shot on 18 and the tee shot on 17, I wasn't happy with.''
However, he said his 5-iron shot to 12 feet on No. 17 and bunker shot over water onto the green on No. 18 to save par give him a lot of confidence going into Sunday.
Langer made a 15-foot putt on No. 3 for eagle that got his day going. He also had a 25-footer for birdie on No. 16. He also had a few putts he just missed in earlier holes. He's had to change from the anchored-putting stroke he used the past 17 years because a rule change this year.
''He looked at me last year at the end of the year and he told, me, 'I'll figure it out,''' Perry said.
Langer said players asked him last year when he was going to make the putting change and he said ''Not until the season's over.'' There was a Schwab Cup to be won.
And this year, the adjustment is progressing.
''I had some fantastic two putts from long distance and made a few and really I didn't miss any short ones,'' he said. ''What else can you expect from a putting, right?
Perry and Scott Dunlap were tied for second. Perry had a 67, and Dunlap shot 66.
Perry had three birdies and a bogey from Nos. 14-17.
Only a bogey on No. 7 stopped Dunlap's birdie run from Nos. 3-8. He also birdied Nos. 16 and 17.
Round 1 - Bernhard Langer opens four shot lead
February 13, 2016
Bernhard Langer had a hard time choosing what kind of putter to use.
Once the 58-year-old German star made that decision, he made the rest look easy Friday, shooting a 10-under 62 to take a four-stroke lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Chubb Classic.
Langer used an anchored stroke with a long putter for 17 years, but new golf rules forced him to adjust after Jan. 1. He said he has used 15 putters and four styles in the last month. Last week in the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, he had two putters in his bag for a round.
''I need to weed through all the different ways and this can take weeks or even months,'' Langer said.
Friday he chose the long putter.
''It was the right decision, I think,'' he said.
That's an understatement.
Langer made 11 birdies at TwinEagles, including five straight birdies on Nos. 3-7 and Nos. 14-18. He made a 35-footer on No. 9 and a 40-footer on No. 17.
Had he not missed 5- and 6-footers, he said his score could've even been better.
''I practiced with two different putters (Thursday) night and I practiced some more this morning before the round with two different putters,'' he said. Then I can go either way, but I decided to go with a long one today and I was glad I did because I putted very well except those two short ones I missed.''
Warmer weather and a much gentler win than earlier in the week played a key in the fine round.
''I played a practice round Tuesday and it was blowing 23-25 mph and that was really difficult,'' he said. ''Today was 4-5 mph, sometimes nothing. If there is no wind, you can be more aggressive, you can shoot to your numbers more precisely.''
Langer went on to win the event in 2013 after also opening with a 62.
In the past seven years in Naples, Langer has two victories, two seconds, a tie for third and a tie for fourth. He was in contention last year before withdrawing to attend to a family matter.
''I don't know exactly why, but we talked about it a few days ago when I was here,'' he said. ''Not sure what it is, I just feel comfortable here and generally, I've always had a decent start. If I look back the last eight or nine years on this tour, I had a pretty good start every year, starting in Hawaii and then playing Boca and coming here.''
Jay Haas was second. He had six birdies.
''It was not easy, but I never felt like I was going to make a bogey,'' he said. ''I didn't expect 6 under to be leading, but maybe didn't see 10 under, either.''
Jeff Maggert was third at 67, and Fred Couples was at 68 along with Kenny Perry Kevin Sutherland, Steve Lowery, Scott Hoch and Michael Allen.