BRIDGEND, Wales — Bernhard Langer won the Senior British Open on Sunday in rain and wind at Royal Porthcawl for his record-extending 10th senior major title and fifth in the last 10.
Fighting a sore throat all week in the difficult weather conditions, the 59-year-old German star closed with an even-par 72 to finish at 4-under 280 and beat American Corey Pavin by three strokes.
“Wasn’t 100 percent,” Langer said. “Makes it even more meaningful.”
Langer joined Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three senior majors in a season, and won the event for the third time to match the tournament record.
“It’s pretty neat to do something that nobody else has done before,” Langer said. “Like winning 10 senior majors, it’s not easily done. There’s a lot of competition out there. Very blessed and honored to have achieved that. Maybe there’s one or two more in the future, who knows? But right now, I’m just going to enjoy the fruit of the labor, and to have won three majors in one season is pretty spectacular, and it actually could have been four if I didn’t mess up two weeks ago (in the Senior Players Championship).”
Langer won the Regions Tradition and Senior PGA Championship — the first two of the PGA Champions Tour’s five majors — in consecutive weeks in May. He finished second behind Scott McCarron in the Senior Players Championship, losing the lead with a double bogey on the 71st hole. Nicklaus won three of the then-four majors in 1991.
Langer also won in 2010 at Carnoustie and took the 2014 event at Royal Porthcawl by 13 strokes. Tom Watson and Gary Player are the only other three-time winners, with Player’s titles coming before the event was a major or part of the PGA Champions Tour.
“We all know what great players those two are, especially Tom has maybe the best links course record of anybody,” Langer said. “He’s one of the best wind players that I’ve seen, maybe the best. And we all know what Gary Player has achieved in his career.”
Langer also won the season-opening event in Hawaii in January and has 33 PGA Tour Champions titles. He’s second on the career victory list, 12 behind Hale Irwin.
“We just keep working at our game and you learn from your mistakes,” Langer said. “I have a very good team around me with my coach, Willy Hoffman; my caddie, Terry Holt; my family who supports me; my brother who is my manager; and I’m reasonably healthy where I don’t have any restraints there. All of that combined, I’m a competitive guy. I’d like to do well, whatever I do. I work hard at it and expect a lot.”
The two-time Masters champion opened with a 69 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead, dropped into a five-way tie for first Friday with a 74 in the most difficult conditions of the week, and shot a 65 on Saturday to open a four-stroke advantage
“It was survival out there,” Langer said. “I don’t know how much you guys went out there when the rain came sideways… When you’re this close to the coast, there’s nothing to protect that wind for 30, 50 miles out there. … The clubs I was hitting at times was ridiculous. For an 8-iron distance, I would hit 3-iron, and that’s not even straight into the wind. It’s just very difficult to comprehend.”
Pavin closed with a 71.
“It’s pretty incredible his run on the Champions Tour in general, but you look at his whole career, it’s amazing,” Pavin said about Langer. “He’s been playing exceptional golf. He’s always going to be tough. He rarely beats himself. I know he did a couple weeks ago, but it doesn’t happen very often.”
Fred Couples had a 68 to tie for third at even par with fellow American Billy Andrade (68) and Australia’s Peter Lonard (71). The 67-year-old Watson, a day after shooting his age, had a 75 to tie for 23rd at 7 over.