Patient Langer does what he does – make the cut at Augusta
That ability to fight for everything he can get out of himself is why the German (61) will be around for the weekend
Bernhard Langer after his shot from the fourth tee during the second round at Augusta. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Unfazed by the carry-on going on around him, Bernhard Langer – with the air of a man who had seen it all before – stood up by the front of the ninth green in his own world. Matt Wallace, one of the other players in his group, had taken his time to blast a recovery shot from bushes after a wild tee shot, and Alvaro Ortiz, a young Mexican, was getting a telling-off from a rules official about the pace of play.
Ortiz’s response was to run up the hill towards the green, where Langer – the German maestro who has dominated the Champions Tour for over a decade – waited to play his own shot in his own good time.
The rules official didn’t ride his electric cart towards him, for good reason.
Earlier in the round, playing the third hole, an official had sought to reprimand the group for being 10 minutes behind time. What followed was a case for the defence from Herr Langer. He told the official how they had been kept waiting for eight minutes to play their tee shot on the second. And, he added, they had been left waiting for four minutes in the middle of the second fairway to play their second shots.
“So, that’s 12 minutes [waiting]. No wonder we [were] 10 minutes behind, right? I don’t know where they got their information from. They said ‘you’re 10 minutes behind. 10’. I said’, ‘well, is that my fault? We can’t play any faster. Do you want me to hit it over their heads?’ You’d think they’d have more common sense.”
Langer would not be troubled again, and, as he tends to do, the 61-year-old Langer and his 60-year-old loyal bagman Terry Holt went about the business of doing what he does, making the cut at the Masters. A second round 72 to add to his opening 71 for a midway total of 143 which ensured he would survive the cut for a 26th time in his 36th appearance. For his first straight 19 times here, Langer was always around for the weekend, including his wins in 1983 and 1993.
Accuracy off the tee
Once again Langer’s accuracy off the tee was critical to his game plan. As he put it, “I’m 40 yards behind everybody, maybe 50. If you hit it short, you better hit it straight, right? Short and crooked would be pretty bad.”
Throughout he was invariably out-gunned by Wallace and Ortiz, yet was the one who contrived to get the ball into the hole in the fewest strokes.
“Experience helps, but it doesn’t make up for hitting five more clubs into every green than somebody else. I’m hitting four irons, they’re hitting nine irons. I would rather hit nine irons and have a little less experience.”
Here he was required to show some resilience after back-to-back bogeys on the ninth and 10th had him free-falling. But he recorded three birdies in his closing five holes – 14th, 15th and 18th – to ensure another made cut on his record.
“I finished strongly, which was nice to make up for some of those bogeys I made earlier on,” said Langer.
What you are guaranteed from Langer is that he will give it his all. Right to the end. This was actually epitomised in his play of the 18th in Thursday’s first round.
“I pulled my tee shot a little bit, hit a branch on the left, and it went 40 yards into the trees behind the fence. I’ve never been in there. I didn’t even know anything was over there. Then it went in the mud where the people were walking on the side of the fairway...then I had 250 yards to the whole. I hit 3-wood and got it up to about 30 feet way from the pin. I made an amazing putt for par.”
That ability to fight for everything he can get out of himself is why Langer – aged 61 – will be the oldest man at the party over the weekend.