0

Langer confident coming to Gwinnett

To see how Bernhard Langer approaches any golf tournament, just look at what he said after his top-25 finish in last weekend's Masters.

The 55-year-old entered Sunday's final round at 2-under par and birdied the first three holes, propelling him near the top of the leaderboard.

"It energized me greatly. It's what I needed," Langer said. "I knew I needed to go something like 7-under to, I thought 6- or 7-under to have a realistic chance to win the tournament and that is what I was trying to do. To go with three birdies right off the bat, that gave me hope that I could do it."

Winning would have made Langer the oldest Masters champion by nearly 10 years of six-time winner Jack Nicklaus, but once he made the cut his eyes turned to the green jacket not some reputable finish for a golfing elder.

"It's fun because it's what I practice for and it's what we all play for, to be in contention," Langer said. "It's not fun finishing 50th or 60th, we all want to be in the hunt. I was there for a while and then it went the other way."

No matter what happened in Augusta, Langer's next stop was Gwinnett for this week's Greater Gwinnett Championship at TPC -- Sugarloaf. Langer likes to win and he's done plenty of that on the Champions Tour. Since becoming eligible at age 50, Langer has won 17 times, equal to that of his second-and third-place finishes combined. This season, in five events, Langer has four top 10s including a victory at the ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla., on Feb. 17. He's the money leader on the tour and first in Charles Schwab Cup points. He's second to David Frost, another in the field at Sugarloaf, in top 10 finishes with four in five tournaments.

"I've been playing good all year," Langer said.

A two-time Masters winner and also a winner at Sea Pines in Hilton Head, S.C., the native of Germany plays well in this part of the United States. He also knows about winning inaugural events, claiming the first Casa Serena Open in 2008 in a European Seniors Tour stop.

He wouldn't say performing so well in one of golf's major championship gave him any added confidence coming to Sugarloaf with a field of contemporaries and, though long, a less grueling test over three days at Gwinnett's TPC course. But Langer's struggles in the rain last week didn't overshadow four strong days of golf.

"(The Masters) was fun. I got off to a great start, felt really good with the putter," Langer said. "I made some really good putts and some really good shots."

But the best prespective he could place on his performance was that he would have accepted it prior to playing the week. Once he saw another victory in sight, finishing shy of that was only disappointment.

"It was still a good week. If you had said I would finish 25th at the beginning of the week, I would have said, 'That's not bad, that's pretty good.' The way things went, especially with my start, I was hoping for better."