Bernhard Langer gave away a four-shot lead in the final round of Senior Players Championship and wondered where his game had gone.
“It was like, `This is not Bernhard Langer,“’ he said, laughing. “Usually I'm a bit more steady.”
No matter. The two-time Masters champion regained his composure — and more importantly his putting stroke — to edge Jeff Sluman on the second hole of a playoff for his third victory of the year and third major title on the Champions Tour.
Langer made a 35-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th to tie Sluman at 15 under, then birdied the par-5 18th on the second hole of sudden death after a brilliant pitch from the rough to 5 feet. The 56-year-old German thrust his arms skyward in triumph after one of the more trying of his 21 career victories on the 50-and-over circuit.
“It comes in all shades I guess,” Langer said after an even-par 70.
Sluman had a bogey-free 65 to match Langer's four-round total of 15-under 265, but narrowly missed a birdie putt on the first playoff hole that would have won it. The 1988 PGA champion covered his face in his hands after the ball stayed out.
“I'm not going to hit a better putt than that,” Sluman said. “It just didn't go in.”
It never seems to for Sluman, at least in playoffs. The 56-year-old American is 1-9 in his professional career when pushed to extra holes.
“If I'm in another playoff, bet on the other guy,” Sluman said.
Russ Cochran, who trailed by seven shots early in the final round, had a 67 to finish third at 14 under. Defending champion Kenny Perry tied Langer for the lead heading into the back nine, but faded badly over the closing holes. Perry's 69 left him two shots out of the playoff.
“I wanted to shoot somewhere 65 or better, didn't happen,” Perry said.
Justin Rose takes Quicken Loans National title
Justin Rose got his mistake out of the way one hole early to defeat Shawn Stefani in a playoff.
Tied for the lead as he played the 18th hole at Congressional, Rose tried to hit through two trees left of the fairway and overturned the shot. It ran down a bank and into the water, and he had to hole a 15-foot bogey putt just to stay in the game.
That proved to be the biggest shot he hit all day.
Behind him, Stefani made bogey on the 17th and narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th to set up the first playoff in the eight-year history of this event.
And then it was Stefani who essentially repeated Rose's mistake on the first extra hole at No. 18.
After taking a drop because the grandstands blocked his view of the green, he wanted to play his low punch to the right side of the green. His shot also had too much turn and bounded into the water. Rose hit the middle of the green from the fairway and two-putted for par. Stefani made double bogey.
It was Rose's first win since the U.S. Open last summer at Merion, and it felt like he won another U.S. Open as tough as Congressional played. With putting surfaces that had a brown tinge to them even before the leaders teed off, and thick rough all week, it was a far stronger test than when the Open was held in soggy conditions in 2011.
Stacy Lewis wins at NW Arkansas Championship
Stacy Lewis made a 7-foot birdie putt on the final hole to finally win an official event in her adopted state.
The top-ranked Lewis, the Texan who played at the nearby University of Arkansas, earned an unofficial win in the rain-shortened 2007 tournament as an amateur. On Sunday, she closed with a 6-under 65 for a one-stroke victory.
Lewis birdied three of her final holes for her third LPGA Tour victory of the year and 11th overall. She finished at 12-under 201 at Pinnacle Country Club.
Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford tied for second. Ko finished with a 65, and Kerr and Stanford shot 67.
Second-round leader Michelle Wie shot a 73 to tie for eighth at 8 under.
Fabrizio Zanotti holds on in playoff at BMW International Open
Fabrizio Zanotti won a four-way playoff to become the first player from Paraguay to win on the European Tour.
Zanotti won when No. 2-ranked Henrik Stenson conceded after failing to make a bunker shot on the fifth playoff hole. Gregory Havret of France and Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain went out on the second and fourth holes, respectively.
The 31-year-old Zanotti earlier made seven birdies for a 7-under 65 final round to finish on 19-under 269 on the Gut Laerchenhof course. It was his second successive 65 after rounds of 72 and then 67.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times