“What rules?” Bernhard Langer’s swift reply to it being pointed out to him that he continues to break them in an age sense in golf summed up perfectly why the 58-year-old is the favourite to repeat a 2010 Senior Open title triumph at Carnoustie and claim that over-50s prize for the third time overall on Sunday.
The German will be hard pushed to repeat his remarkable 13-shot triumph in this event at Royal Porthcawl two years ago. “That was astonishing,” admitted Langer himself. With three Champions Tour titles, including a seventh over-50s major already in the bag this year, though, there is no doubting who is the man to beat over the next four days even with the likes of Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie, Miguel Angel Jimenez and John Daly also in the field.
“I think I’ve learned to pace myself,” said Langer, revealing a small part of his recipe for success. “In the young days, you just played and played. One time I played 11 in a row. If I did that now, you would find me in the loony place. You’ve got to listen to yourself and your body, and I don’t like going more than two in a row now, really. Every once in a while I go three if I absolutely have to, but I do things to recuperate and give myself rest.”
Langer won with a five-under-par total here six years ago, pipping Corey Pavin by a shot. He described the test then as being “very, very tough” but reckons it is even more difficult this time around. “We have more rough than we did in 2010,” reported Langer. “That rough is not just tall; it’s very healthy at the bottom.”
Tuesday’s pro-am was played in tropical conditions; yesterday’s final practice round didn’t start until after lunchtime due to thunderstorms. It’s a different test to Royal Porthcawl. “When it’s wet and soft, you could have a whole bunch of guys coming down the stretch on Sunday with a chance to win,” observed Langer.
Top first-round tee times Top first-round tee times
8.50am Anders Forsbrand (Swe), Brad Faxon (US), Paul Broadhurst (Eng)
9.00am Mark Calcavecchia (US), Barry Lane (Eng), David Frost (RSA)
9.10am Jean van de Velde (Fra), Ian Woosnam (Wal), Tom Lehman (US)
9.20am Bernhard Langer (Ger), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp), Marco Dawson (US)
1.30pm Jesper Parnevik (Swe), Mark O’Meara (US), Craig Stadler (US)
1.40pm Billy Andrade (US), Sandy Lyle (Sco), Jeff Maggert (US)
1.50pm Tom Watson (US), Colin Montgomerie (Sco), John Daly (US)