Thursday, September 17, 2009

Langer looks for Leading Role

Bernhard Langer issued an ominous warning on the eve of this week’s Casa Serena Open on the European Senior Tour, telling the rest of the field: “It is time for me to win again.” The 52 year old German captured the inaugural title last year and, understandably will begin his defence as tournament favourite at the delightful Casa Serena Golf some 70 kilometres south east of Prague in the Czech Republic. Langer has won four times on the US Champions Tour in 2009 but has yet to taste victory on this side of the Atlantic, a point the 2004 European Ryder Cup Captain admitted he was keen to address. “I have been playing all right recently and fairly decent for most of the year to be honest,” he said. “I have performed well in the States but I haven’t won in my last five tournament outings, so it is time to win again! “I would like to think that I would be in the mix come Sunday – obviously I would love to defend my title successfully but there are no guarantees. There are a lot of good golfers out here and I will have to make some putts, it often comes down to just that. “There are a lot of players who can hit fairways and greens but it sometimes comes down to who makes the most putts and avoids making major mistakes who wins out in the end. Those are the guys who will play for the title and hopefully I will be one of them.” With a total prizefund of €600,000 and a first prize of €90,000, the Casa Serena Open is one of the most lucrative on the European Senior circuit and, being the third last tournament of the season, can obviously have a huge bearing on who wins the Order of Merit at the end of the year. Current leader Mark McNulty is not in action leaving the door open for the men in positions two, three and four – Sam Torrance, Ian Woosnam and Tony Johnstone – to make a significant move this week. Langer is currently in 11th spot and while it is not impossible he could finish number one, it would take other results to go his way in the final three tournaments for that to happen. Torrance – a mere €261 behind McNulty – topped the Order of Merit in both 2005 and 2006 to lay his hands on the coveted John Jacobs Trophy and an early season victory in Barbados, coupled with three top five finishes in his last four outings, has seen him move once again into a challenging position. “It felt awesome to be Number One,” said the 2002 European Ryder Cup Captain. “It was something that I had wanted my whole life. It will also be a huge challenge to win it for a third time, especially as there are so many good players reaching 50 every year, but I’m up for the challenge.” Woosnam – who won the John Jacobs trophy last season in his rookie Senior year – is close to completing a dream double and the 2006 European Ryder Cup Captain admitted it would mean a lot to repeat the feat. “I cherish my John Jacobs Trophy and to do what both Carl Mason and Sam have done in the past and win it back to back would be a very significant feat,” said the Welshman who is €5,267 behind McNulty. “John Jacobs supported me as a junior player and I’ve always been very grateful to him for all the help he gave me, so his trophy is very special.” Zimbabwean Johnstone was an outside bet for the Order of Merit crown but all that changed two weeks ago thanks to his superb victory in the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at Woburn, a victory which pushed him up to fourth on the rankings, and only €20,757 behind McNulty. The 54 hole Casa Serena Open will take place from Friday September 18 to Sunday September 20 with the winner picking up a cheque for €90,000.

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