Sport Golf

Monday 22 January 2018

Langer in vintage form as wind bites

Bernhard Langer salutes the crowd at Royal Birkdale as he rolled back the years to take a share of the lead in the second round of the Senior Open Championship
Bernhard Langer salutes the crowd at Royal Birkdale as he rolled back the years to take a share of the lead in the second round of the Senior Open Championship

Alasdair Reid

BERNHARD Langer's British Senior Open win at Carnoustie in 2010 was a reminder that the German tends to be at his best on courses that demand precision, and the 55-year-old offered another matchless display of slide-rule golf as he took the joint lead in this year's event at Royal Birkdale with a superb 67.

The two-time Masters champion put one ugly blot on his card with a double-bogey at the par-four sixth, but he rolled back the years for the remainder of his round. Late in the evening, America's Mark Wiebe fired the round of the day – a 65 that brought him level with Langer.

The galleries were treated to a typical Langer display of efficiency and rigorous attention to detail. On a day when a tetchy breeze and an unforgiving set-up made high scores the norm, Langer's calm and calculating approach paid dividends, as a number of his main rivals moved backwards.

Perhaps the most dramatic slip was the one made by Colin Montgomerie early in his round, when the Scot lost three shots in the space of two holes.

Even though he steadied the ship for a respectable 71, Montgomerie's mood was still dark at the finish.

While Monty moved south, there was an upward move from Ireland's Mark McNulty, who shot 67 for three-under overall. First-round leader Gene Sauers dropped to three-under as well, but he remains a contender.

Meanwhile, Des Smyth thought he was on his way home after a tough opening stretch of holes, but the 2006 Ryder Cup vice-captain dug deep for a 69 to zoom up 58 places and comfortably make the cut. Smyth knew his opening 76 put him on notice that he would need a good score to stay for the weekend but his prospects looked bleak when he moved to eight-over for the tournament after four holes of his second round.

At that point, it was time to shape up, or get ready to ship out.

"After that start I was thinking I'm going to be packing up early and going home," he said. "I knew I needed a good score in the second round.

"This course is a great course, but if your game gets away from you a bit, the course will murder you and I let it get away from me on Thursday. But I stuck with it, and I'm hoping I can have a good weekend here."

MOMENTUM

Smyth birdied the par-three seventh, where he hit a six-iron to 12 feet, and par-four ninth to gain some momentum. Two more birdies on 12 and 15 helped his cause, and the only blemish on the back nine was a bogey on 16, where he three-putted.

Philip Walton fell back, shooting 76 to lie six-over for the tournament, while Denis O'Sullivan missed the cut on 10-over.

Former two-time Senior Open champion Christy O'Connor Jr retired injured after playing nine holes of his second round.

Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell improved on his first-round efforts by 11 shots at the Canadian Open, firing a seven-under-par 65 to comfortably make the cut on three-under. Hunter Mahan leads on 13-under.

British Seniors Open,

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Canadian Open,

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Irish Independent

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