Constellation leader playing 'flawless golf'



After making just one bogey in two days and hitting shots that appear to be on auto control, Bernhard Langer of Germany is giving them the Martin Kaymer treatment at the Constellation Senior Players Championship.

Meaning, he’s going to be a tough leader to catch.

Even defending champ Kenny Perry, who shot 63 for the third time in his past five rounds at the Fox Chapel Golf Club, knows he will need to keep knocking down flagsticks to have a chance to hunt down the former two-time Masters champion.

Round two: Constellation Senior Players Championship

Post-Gazette golf writer Gerry Dulac recaps the second round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club Friday. (Video by Matt Freed; 6/27/2014)

“He’s playing flawless golf,” Perry said. “He’s hitting it perfect. He’s going to be a hard man to catch. I’m gonna have to keep shooting 62s to catch him.”

Perry did not make a bogey while making seven birdies in the second round, but he couldn’t help but marvel at Langer, the Champions Tour’s top player. All he did was follow his opening 65 with a 6-under 64 to finish at 11-under 129 — the second lowest 36-hole start in tournament history — and open a two-shot lead on Doug Garwood and Bill Glasson.

Langer was so much in control that it took something out of his control to produce his only bogey in two days.

That came on No. 13, a 432-yard dogleg par-4, when Langer’s ball picked up a chunk of mud in the soft fairway. The mud caused Langer’s second shot to shoot dead left under a tree, from where he had little backswing.

Unlike the first day, when the players were allowed to lift, clean and place the ball in the soggy fairways, the Champions Tour did not implement the rule for the second round — except on the water-logged par-4 14th hole.

“I was surprised,” Langer said. “I thought we would play it up another day.”

But that little setback was nothing compared to another unforeseen obstacle that Langer will have to overcome in today’s third round: A broken driver.

After he hit his tee shot at No. 18 and was bending to pick up his tee, Langer heard a rattle in his driver — a sound, to a golfer, akin to hearing a knock in your car transmission.

After the round, Langer unscrewed the driver head and discovered the aluminum tip that connects the shaft to the sleeve of the driver head was broken. He took the driver to the equipment trailer where repair man Mike Bertha, a Baldwin native, put an identical tip on the end of the shaft.

Langer tested the driver on the practice range and all appears good for the third round. Before that, Langer had the look of an 8-year-old girl who just lost her teddy bear.

“It’s been in the bag for21/2 years, so it means it’s a good club,” Langer said. “There’s two or three clubs that need to be good — the driver, the putter and maybe the wedges. So it’s one of the most important clubs in the bag.”

After his streak of 21 consecutive top-10 finishes ended last week in Chicago, Langer appears determined to start a new one in an impressive way. He has hit 24 of 28 fairways, 31 of 36 greens and needed only 57 putts in two days.

Even when he missed a fairway, Langer has been able to conjure the improbable. Witness what happened at No. 7, a 295-yard par-4, when he tried to reach the green with his driver, only to yank his tee shot nearly 30 yards left of the putting surface.

No problem. He merely pitched his second shot to a short-side pin and holed it for eagle.

“That was a bonus,” Langer said.

That’s the way Garwood, a former mini-tour gypsy who never played in a PGA Tour event, feels just being on the Champions Tour. After a playoff loss and a fourth-place finish in his past two starts, he is back on the leader board at 9-under 191, just two shots behind Langer.

“Being out here, every day is like Disneyland for me,” said Garwood, who shot a 67.

Garwood made six birdies for the second day in a row, but, unlike the first round, he also made three bogeys, none more sobering than when he chunked a lob wedge from 90 yards in the fairway at the short par-4 fifth.

But he was outdone by Glasson, who birdied his first three holes, seven overall, and was one of four players to shoot 64. There was Langer, of course, and the others were Michael Allen and John Riegger, who are tied at 132, three shots back.

Glasson, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour who has yet to win on the Champions Tour, played in the afternoon when the course started to dry and the ball picked up less mud.

“I was happy that we were playing late in the day, playing the ball down,” Glasson said. “If there was an advantage to be had, that was it. I thought, if anything, that was a break for us.”

•NOTE — Former three-time major champion Nick Price, who shot 10-over 150, withdrew following the round, citing a back injury.


Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com and Twitter @gerrydulac.

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