Langer looks destined for third major of season
Bernhard Langer will have to go some for the same 13-stroke margin of victory he enjoyed at Royal Porthcawl three years ago. But it would take a brave person to bet against the German completing a Senior Open double on the Glamorgan coastline.
A third-round 65 gave the 59-yearold a four-shot lead and brought the third major win of the season tantalisingly into focus.
The only previous player to notch up a major treble in a single campaign on the over-50s circuit? A certain Jack Nicklaus, 26 years ago. In truth, Langer has already eclipsed everything the Golden Bear achieved in the veterans’ division.
Porthcawl could just be Langer’s favourite hunting ground. He was once again in his element on this relatively glorious Saturday. After two days of ruinous wind and driving rain, the sun was interested enough to make an appearance and yet again it was proved that, when Mother Nature obliges, then so, too, does the links.
On Friday, there had been 49 scores of 80 and above. Yesterday, there was not one. Tom Watson, Mr Evergreen himself, shot his age – a 67 – and so many in the field followed suit.
There was not a single sub-70 round in the second round. In the third round, there were 31.
Corey Pavin was one of five to emulate Langer’s six-under magnificence, taking a huge leap to one-under. Yet it seems as if the diminutive American will have to settle for second best in Wales for the second time this decade.
The 2010 US Ryder Cup captain – who was so unfortunate to see his team beaten by a point at Celtic Manor – can at the very least claim bragging rights over the 2010 Europe captain. Colin Montgomerie could muster “only” a one-under 70 and, on four-over, it seems almost certain that the Scot will have to wait another year to fulfil his Senior Open ambition.
Pavin is ready to tackle Langer, but is aware of the task he faces. Langer has won seven of the past 16 majors. He is 60 next month, but shows no sign of stopping
“Oh, that guy,” Pavin said with a smile when asked about his final round playing partner. “He’s just been playing exceptional golf for a long time now. As a senior, yes, but his whole career has been fantastic.
“He’s a tough guy to go after. But I can be tough sometimes, too, and I just know I have to go out and play my game and let it happen. And if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I can’t be concerned about Bernhard. Maybe the last couple of holes, if it becomes the two of us, but a lot can happen.”
The Australian Peter Lonard is in third, while Miguel Angel Jimenez, the ponytailed Spaniard and another of yesterday’s 65 brigade, is in the group on one-under in fourth. Flying the Welsh flag one behind is Phillip Price.
At the Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald, the Australian Karrie Webb (70) and the Korean Sei Young Kim (69) lead on six-under, two clear of Cristie Kerr (73), of the US.
Georgia Hall, the 21-year-old from Bournemouth who is set to make her Solheim Cup bow next month, leads the British challenge in a tie for sixth on level par after a 72.
Better with age: Bernhard Langer leads by four going into the final round of the Senior Open