Daily Mail

Langer’s a champ again as Watson bows out

- Golf Correspond­ent at Royal Lytham DEREK LAWRENSON

On the day that Tom Watson said farewell to the Senior Open, it seemed only fitting that Bernhard Langer should combat the elements and the ravages of time to take this particular claret jug.

When it comes to remarkable feats of longevity in this sport, the pair have been in a league of their own over the past decade.

now Watson has left the stage and passed the baton to the remarkable German, who, a month shy of his 62nd birthday, became the oldest winner of this event.

Starting the day three off the lead held by Paul Broadhurst, who won the title in 2016, Langer made light of the tough conditions and a lengthy delay to post a marvellous 66 to win by two shots from the Midlander, who shot 71.

It remains one of the game’s great mysteries how Langer never won the Open, but he’s certainly made amends since turning 50.

This was his fourth triumph in this event, taking him past the previous record he held with

Gary Player — and Watson. Thirty- three years after he became golf’s first world no 1 when the rankings began in 1986, this was Langer’s 11th senior major victory, as he continues his domination of the circuit.

An event that began in baking temperatur­es on Thursday suffered a delay of more than five hours yesterday, before the rain that had fallen constantly for 18 hours mercifully eased.

The great sadness was that, in order to avoid a dreaded Monday ending, the draw had to be revised with a two-tee start.

It meant that Watson had to conclude his round at the 9th, the furthest point from the finish that he surely deserved, in front of the stately clubhouse at the 18th.

Fate has not been kind in this regard to the greatest links golfer of all time. Weather delays at his last Open appearance, at St Andrews in 2015, meant he finished well past 10pm and in near darkness.

Just as on that occasion, when they spilled out of the pubs to line the 18th, enough people showed up to make sure he didn’t complete his final walk alone.

When he got to the 18th this time, there were more people watching Watson than the leaders, and every window in the clubhouse was filled with on- lookers. Watson bowed gracefully, and blew kisses.

It seemed almost cruel that the rain started to fall once more as he passed the clubhouse and made his way to the first tee. If truth be told, he would have probably preferred the shelter of the locker room than play another nine.

Dressed in Seve blue, at the venue where the Spaniard won the Open on two occasions, Watson remained a consummate pro to the end.

While his playing partners, Peter O’Malley and Gary Wolstenhol­me, resorted to the hybrid clubs that are the refuge of seniors of all standards, there was Watson, on the cusp of his 70th birthday, accepting no such quarter and reaching for his long irons. Would we expect anything else from the man who never contemplat­ed using a long-handled putter, even when his putting stroke was riddled with the yips?

Right to the end, several hundred hardy souls stayed with him, through the driving rain that now fell, and never mind that it meant a good two-mile hike back to the clubhouse.

Watson, who finished with a 74, smiled broadly and gave one final, lusty wave, followed by a thumbs-up. Over to you, Bernhard. KOReAn Ko Jin-young shot 67 to win her second major of the season with a two stroke victory in the evian Championsh­ip in France.

It was a disappoint­ing event for the British contingent, ahead of this week’s AIG Women’s Open at Woburn.

Bronte Law(74) fared best in 22nd place, with Charley Hull ( 70) finishing tied 30th and Georgia Hall (71) and Mel Reid (71) tied 37th.

 ?? REUTERS/ GETTY IMAGES ?? Emotional: Watson bids farewell as Langer (right) celebrates
REUTERS/ GETTY IMAGES Emotional: Watson bids farewell as Langer (right) celebrates

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