November 22, 2008 – Bernhard Langer is a serious contender to become the oldest winner in European Tour history after carding a brilliant seven-under-par 63 in the third round of the UBS Hong Kong Open on Saturday (November 22).
The 51-year-old German rolled back the years at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling to finish the day on 11-under 199 – just two shots behind leader Oliver Wilson.
The record for oldest European Tour champion is held by Ireland’s Des Smyth, who was 48 when he won the Madeira Island Open in 2001.
Langer, who plays most of his golf on the US seniors circuit, the Champions Tour, had an eagle and seven birdies against two bogeys on Fanling’s tight par-70 Championship Course.
Asked if he was surprised to be in contention for the 50th edition of the UBS Hong Kong Open, he said: “A little bit, but not too much because I’ve had a very good year. The Champions Tour is very competitive and I’ve won four times this year.
“And this course suits me because it’s not that long. I’m not a long hitter, so it’s more about precision and being straight and manoeuvring the ball a little bit. When I play well, I can do that well. It’s just a matter of making the putts.”
Langer, who won the Hong Kong Open back in 1991, has his 18-year-old son, Stefan, caddying for him this week.
“He’s just as good as a professional caddie except I don’t ask him what club to hit,” revealed the two-time Masters champion.
“I don’t put him under that pressure, it wouldn’t be fair because he only caddies for me once or twice a year, so I just make my own decisions.”
Langer’s round was highlighted by two brilliant fairway bunker shots using his seven-iron.
On the par-four sixth he landed his approach within inches of the pin for a birdie and on the par-four seventh he went one better, holing the shot for an eagle.
He joked: “As I was telling Stefan, maybe I should hit more fairway bunkers; aim for those because I seem to be doing pretty good out of them!”
Langer added: “It’s always great to be in contention. That’s what we practice for and that’s what we work for, to have a chance on Sunday afternoon to win the golf tournament.”
Victory for Langer would also see him break the record for the longest gap between Hong Kong titles currently held by Taiwanese great Lu Liang Huan.
The player popularly known as “Mr Lu” won the inaugural Hong Kong Open in 1959 and reclaimed the crown 15 years later in 1974.