2005: British Open - Langer’s surprise finish stokes his anticipation

St. Andrews, Scotland

Bernhard Langer, 47, was trying to become the oldest major championship winner in history and, at the same time, was trying to put the legend of Captain Invisible behind him.

Midway through the final round of the Open Championship, Langer had climbed to 9 under par and found himself within four shots of leader Tiger Woods.

It would not last, as Langer dumped a simple pitch shot into a greenside pot bunker at No. 15 and took a double bogey. “One of the worst shots I ever hit,” said Langer, who eventually tied for fifth at 7-under 281.

Langer, who squeezed into the championship as an alternate when injured Shingo Katayama withdrew, was encouraged by his performance.

“My expectations weren’t that high,” Langer said. “If I finished in the top 20 or 30, that would have been a success. Now I know my (best) golf game is not that far away.”

Langer, who eagled the fifth hole in the final round with a 25-foot putt, nevertheless was unhappy with his putting. He totaled 33 putts in the last round. In four rounds, he had fewer than 30 putts only once – 29 in the second round.

“The greens looked faster than they were,” Langer said. “I had trouble judging the speed.”

Langer had to deal with a wrist injury in 2004, which gave him extra time to devote to his duties as European Ryder Cup captain. Regardless, he was nicknamed “Captain Invisible” by some of the British tabloid newspapers.

“I will never understand that,” said Langer, who guided his European team to a convincing Ryder Cup victory. “I spent a lot of time watching the players and trying to figure out who to choose.”

Langer reflected on all the Ryder Cup responsibilities, then seemed to be overjoyed to be done with it.

“It was a wonderful experience, but I want to get back to my day job. I want to play golf,” he said.

He declined to speculate on his chances of making the 2006 Ryder Cup team as a player, although there was a gleam in his eye as he talked about the future. There was nothing invisible about his optimism.

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