McCar­ron ral­lies to edge Langer, Jobe

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

When Bern­hard Langer opened a three-stroke lead with two birdies on the first five holes of Sun­day’s fi­nal round of the Con­stel­la­tion Se­nior Play­ers Cham­pi­onship, many watch­ing and even some play­ing at the Caves Val­ley Golf Club in Owings Mills fig­ured the re­main­ing holes would be a coro­na­tion for the most dom­i­nant player on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons. Few counted on any­one chas­ing down Langer. Even fewer counted on Langer giv­ing up his seem­ingly com­fort­able lead. Yet both hap­pened. A 6-un­der-par 66 by Scott McCar­ron was enough to catch and even­tu­ally pass Langer, who opened the door with what seemed to be a rare bo­gey on the par-3 13th hole, made a dis­as­trous dou­ble-bo­gey on

the par-3 17th and then saw his chance to force a play­off dis­ap­pear when his 6-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th cir­cled nearly the whole cup but didn’t go in.

“I thought I hit a re­ally good putt,” Langer said. “Hit a good chunk of the hole, too. But the big is­sue was 17, hit­ting a hor­ri­ble shot there [into the wa­ter] and then miss­ing a 6- or 7-footer for bo­gey. That was the killer.”

Brandt Jobe, who shot even-par 72 and fin­ished tied with Langer for sec­ond, made a bo­gey on the par-3 17th and missed a 25-foot birdie try on 18 that would have helped get him into the play­off.

It gave McCar­ron, 52, who fin­ished with a four-round to­tal of 18-un­der 270, his first ma­jor cham­pi­onship as a pro­fes­sional and pre­vented the 59-year-old Langer, who shot a 1-over par 73, from win­ning his fourth straight Se­nior Play­ers Cham­pi­onship and 10th over­all ma­jor on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons.

“I thought it was a very dif­fi­cult task to catch him or pass him, but I thought if I go out there and have a good stretch on the front nine and maybe put a lit­tle pres­sure on these guys, that you never know what hap­pens, it’s golf,” said McCar­ron, whose six-shot deficit to start the fi­nal round tied the largest ever by the win­ner of the Se­nior Play­ers Cham­pi­onship. “To come from that far be­hind, es­pe­cially with Bern­hard Langer, is re­ally some­thing spe­cial.”

Said Langer, who also lost the op­por­tu­nity to be­come the first player — male or fe­male — in 90 years to win the same ma­jor four straight years: “I played the same way I played the last few days, pretty ag­gres­sive, smart, what­ever. That’s what I call it. Don’t take ridicu­lous chances but take [chances]. You know, I lost it. It’s very sim­ple.”

Jobe, who played ev­ery round with Langer at Caves Val­ley, said it was shock­ing to watch him give up the lead.

“If you would have told me that he was go­ing to shoot 1 [over] and I was go­ing to shoot even to­day, I would have said you’re crazy,” said Jobe, who came into the fi­nal round one shot be­hind Langer. “I thought once we get 3- or 4-un­der, no one else has a chance, it’s just too low. Re­ally that would have been the case. We didn’t do our jobs to­day.”

McCar­ron, play­ing in the two­some ahead of Langer and Jobe, thought the same way un­til he reached the 16th hole. McCar­ron re­called a con­ver­sa­tion he had with his cad­die, Evan Vollerthum of Fall­ston, who went on the cham­pion’s bag when McCar­ron’s reg­u­lar cad­die left be­fore Wed­nes­day’s pro-am be­cause his fa­ther was close to death and even­tu­ally died in Texas.

“It was re­ally weird, my cad­die Evan and I were talk­ing about it, it just seemed to hap­pen so quickly,” McCar­ron said of his Sun­day come­back. “We were back all day and I made a bunch of birdies, but Langer was still up there at 20 [un­der] and I was still like three back, it seemed all the time. All of a sud­den, I looked on the board at 16 and saw we were only one back.”

McCar­ron, who had pulled to within one when Langer made his first bo­gey in 31 holes on the par-3 13th, missed a chance to take a share of the lead when he missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th hole. He then made pars on the last two holes and started hear­ing groans com­ing from the fans fol­low­ing Langer and Jobe.

The first one came when Langer put his tee shot on the par-3 17th into the wa­ter right of the green. The next came when Jobe, who had put his tee shot into the bunker left of the green, chun­ked his re­cov­ery into the rough and then sculled his chip across the green. Then an­other was heard when Langer’s 6-footer for bo­gey lipped out.

And, fi­nally, again when Jobe’s long up­hill birdie try on18 rolled by and Langer’s short down­hill putt on 18 rolled three­quar­ters of the way around the cup and spun out.

McCar­ron was on the prac­tice range hit­ting balls and get­ting ready for a po­ten­tial play­off.

Asked when he re­al­ized that he had won the tour­na­ment, McCar­ron said, “I heard the groan [af­ter Langer’s putt at 18.] I al­ways be­lieve that the guys are go­ing to birdie the last hole. I was prepar­ing for a play­off and I thought it would maybe be a three-man play­off. Brandt was 20 or 30 feet below the hole, I heard him miss and I heard Langer’s, the groan there, and that was when I knew I had won.”

McCar­ron, whose fourth PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons win brought him a first-place check for $420,000 and moved him to sec­ond on the money list be­hind Langer, called his first ma­jor cham­pi­onship “a re­ally good feel­ing. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons … and hav­ing the year I had last year and hav­ing the year I am now. It’s just a lot of hard work.”

Said Langer, who lost a 54-hole lead for the first time since the 2013 Se­nior Bri­tish Open: “This is go­ing to hurt a lit­tle while be­cause it was within my grasp to win the cham­pi­onship. All I had to do was come home in even par more or less [on the back nine], 20-un­der would have done it. But it’s eas­ier said than done.”

KENNETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Bern­hard Langer re­acts af­ter miss­ing a birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have forced a play­off. Langer lost a 54-hole lead for the first time since the 2013 Se­nior Bri­tish Open.

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