Eagle lands Boca’s Langher the Allianz Championship
By Mario Sarmento
BOCA RATON –It was a shot Boca Raton’s Bernhard Langher said, “If you put me in there 50 times, I wouldn’t make it again.”
The situation was dire. Langher, who lost a one-shot lead with two holes to play and had to birdie 18th just to force a playoff, had hit his second shot into the bunker to the left of the hole. His opponent, John Cook, had placed his ball onto the green, and was within putting range of his first Allianz Championship.
Langher’s ball was buried halfway in the sand, and then he came up with his miraculous shot, the most dramatic in the four-year history of the Boca Raton event.
“It was plugged, which made it that much harder,” he said. “It changes the whole thing. I was trying to make good contact, visualize the shot.”
Langher did that and more, as he lofted the ball towards the hole, and it settled onto the soft grass and rolled the final few feet into the hole.
That prompted the usually placid Langher to thrust his right arm into the air, and jump as high as he could, while those in attendance reacted with thunderous applause.
“To finish it with an unbelievable shot, that made it all the more thrilling,” Langher said.
But it still wasn’t over. Cook still had a 30-foot putt to make that if he buried, would send the championship to a second playoff hole.
“I knew he was going to have a go at it,” Langher said. “He’s a good putter.”
Cook indeed gave the ball a ride, but it settled just inches short of the intended mark, and Langher had his first Allianz Championship won in his backyard.
“It certainly was special,” Langher said. “It doesn’t get any better than that, to win while your family and friends are present.”
And it almost didn’t come to pass.
After starting the day tied for second, one shot back of co-leaders Tim Simpson and Tommy Armour III, Langher birdied three of the first five holes to take the early lead, a lead he held until the 17th.
There, just two holes away from the championship, his par putt did not break to the right, and stopped to the left of the cup. Langher tapped in for a bogey, and the damage was done when Cook birdied the 18th, meaning Langher had to do the same to force a playoff.
“I tried to putt my second putt and it hit something, and it went left instead of going to the right,” Langher said.
Things got worse on 18, when Langher sliced his tee shot to the right, and the ball landed in the sand between two trees. The ball was covered with shells, and Langher had to request a referee so he could pick them off carefully without causing a violation.
“I had to aim 30-40 yards to the right to not hit the tree,” he said.
He followed with a low line drive that somehow found the edge of the green, then two-putted to force the playoff.
Cook had been nearly flawless all week, with just one bogey and 25-of-27 greens hit in regulation. But still, it wasn’t enough.
“There’s a reason why Bernie’s a Hall-of-Famer,” Cook said afterwards.