Bernhard Langer was in philosophical mood as he reflected on his Royal Birkdale heartache ahead of this week’s Berenberg Masters.
The German was within touching distance of claiming his second Senior Open Presented by Rolex title – and third Senior Major overall – only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and hand the Claret Jug to American Mark Wiebe, who eventually prevailed in the play-off on Monday morning.
Langer’s final hole collapse was all the more surprising given his famously cool demeanour and reputation for closing out tournaments with a killer’s instinct; but the 42-time European Tour champion will this week aim to prove it was merely a blip as he seeks to secure his first victory on home soil since winning the 2001 German Masters.
“Last Sunday was obviously one of the most disappointing days of my whole career,” admitted Langer.
“Playing the 18th hole with a two-shot cushion should be more than enough to win any tournament. But I used the wrong club for my second shot, then had a bad lie in the bunker and didn’t manage to hole the putt. So I ended up making double bogey and the rest, as they say, is history.
“But you have to get over the disappointment quickly and take the positives, because I played really well for 71 holes. And it’s great that I’ve got a tournament this week, especially at home, because it means I have to refocus and move on. Hopefully I can react in the right way and bounce straight back.”
Langer’s record in the Berenberg Masters is typically impressive, finishing in fifth place last year and tied 11th in 2011, and another bold bid in Cologne is all but guaranteed.
But given Golf- und Land-Club Köln’s tight, tree-lined fairways and sloping greens, the unerring accuracy for which the 55 year old is famed will have to be very much to the fore if he is to walk away with the lion’s share of the €400,000 prize fund.
He said: “Golf- und Land-Club Köln is a perfect course which is always presented in the best possible condition. But it can be very difficult to play, because the fairways are really narrow and the greens are difficult and undulating. And if the wind picks up, you never know for sure which direction it is blowing because of the trees, so you have to be very careful.
“As always, the field this week is so strong, so it’s not going to be easy to win. But I will try hard to play my best golf for the fans and hopefully get the win.
“I would like to thank Berenberg for giving us the opportunity to play a European Senior Tour event in Germany for the third year. The weather forecast looks very good, so we should be in for another great week.”
Langer will be accompanied in the first round by Australian Peter Fowler and England’s Barry Lane, who has finished runner-up in the Order of Merit for the past two seasons.
American Tim Thelen, meanwhile, begins his title defence alongside Argentine Eduardo Romero and Wales’ former Ryder Cup-winning Captain Ian Woosnam, whilst England’s Paul Wesselingh – already a two-time winner on the 2013 Senior Tour Schedule – will be joined in the first round by his illustrious compatriot Carl Mason and Ireland’s Des Smyth.
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