CARY, N.C. – There was no reason for Bernhard Langer to scoreboard-watch on Sunday at the SAS Championship.
With the 2018 title in sight, he continued to drop birdie putts and posted a seven-under 65 finish at Prestonwood Country Club while playing partners Tom Lehman (4th, -13) and Gene Sauers (T5th, -12) looked on.
Aspiring contenders, Scott Parel (2nd, -16) and Jerry Kelly (3rd, -15) tried to catch him with Parel matching Langer’s low round of the day.
But they couldn’t get close.
From start to finish, the four-time Charles Schwab Cup champion put together a record-setting end to any speculation of who would raise the championship crystal.
Walking away with the victory six strokes clear of Parel at 22-under par, Langer won his second career SAS Championship, and posted his second win of the year to take the lead in the coveted Cup standings heading into the PGA Tour Champions playoff season.
“Yeah, I’m playing good golf,” Parel said.
“You know, I had a really good week. Bernhard is just in his own world this week.”
Tied with Sauers through the first two rounds, Langer played a bogey-free final 18.
He just hit fairways and greens throughout, ranking second from the clean lies, and leading the field in putting.
“At first, I felt the leaders were with me, playing with me, which was the case and that was a tight race until Gene Sauers made a couple of mistakes,” Langer said.
“Up until that point it was very tight. Then I continued making birdies and got my nose in front and didn’t turn around.”
Winning his 38th Champions tournament, a tally sitting second only to Hale Irwin’s 45, Langer became the first player to claim four wins in his 60s.
What’s most impressive is that the World Golf Hall of Famer’s play and success rate has increased as he’s aged, and not dropped in the opposite direction as many would assume.
Langer credited maintaining a consistent regimen of fitness and playing to do so.
“Well, you always think that because statistics show that the guys, once they get past 55, the majority struggle more so,” he said.
“They don’t win as often, and they don’t finish up high as much as they used to. But those are statistics and there are always exceptions, and I’m trying to be an exception and still winning and still staying at the very top at age 61 or whatever comes in the future.”
Indeed, Langer is the exception.
Many Tour golfers have reverted to analyzing swing speeds and tinkering with equipment to adjust to changing physical factors due to aging while searching for golf’s version of the Fountain of Youth.
Langer hasn’t done so.
Consistency and working with what he knows – staying in his lane so-to-speak – has gotten him the results he’s wanted.
“There’s no difference, just doing the same thing for the last 20, 25 years,” Langer said.
“I work out, and I stretch a lot. When I’m home I work out more. When I’m on Tour it’s just more stretching and just light workouts. Otherwise, I just work on my game and try and pace myself. Play about 23, 25 events a year, which is enough to stay competitive. I think it would be hard to only play six or eight and be competitive. I do what I think works best for me. Been doing this for 43 years now, so I should know what’s good and what’s nod.
“I’m not as technical involved whatever as some of the guys are nowadays. I’m still old school. I use some clubs that are pretty old and that kind of stuff, but I don’t have, what do you call that thing in front of you, the computer that shows all the spin rate and distance. I’m sure it’s good, I just didn’t grow up with it. I like using it every once in a while, but I don’t use it every single day when I hit balls like Dustin Johnson does. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s probably beneficial. I just haven’t gone that way and I don’t know much about shafts and this and that. I try the odd club. If I like it, it goes in the bag. If not, the old stuff stays in. That’s how it’s been.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport