Bernhard Langer tees off on the 16th hole.
Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune
Bernhard Langer -18
David Peoples -16
Kenny Perry -15
Olin Browne -15
Joel Edwards -14
Jeff Sluman -13
Three tied -12
Langer a perfect minus-10
- Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS
- Star Tribune
- August 6, 2012 - 5:21 AM
David Peoples kept his golf game safely in cruise control Sunday during the final round of the 3M Championship.
Bernhard Langer opened his full throttle for a dazzling last-day surge to match his blaze orange shirt.
Six shots behind Peoples with 18 holes to play, Langer gave himself a lofty goal: 10 under par.
"When you're desperate what can you do?" Langer said.
He went out and accomplished exactly what he set out for, and finally earned a victory he had been longing for.
Langer, playing two groups ahead of Peoples, shot 31 on each nine for his 10-under 62 at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine. It put him at 18 under par, winning the tournament by two strokes over Peoples. Olin Browne and Kenny Perry finished three shots back.
It's Langer's 15th victory on the Champions Tour but his first in his past 24 starts on the 50-and-over circuit, a career-long gap. His longest previous drought was 11 events.
Langer had finished in the top 10 in eight consecutive tournaments, and last week was ahead on Sunday in the Senior British Open before poor shots opened the door for Fred Couples.
"Winning is always special, but this one was pretty important because it's been a while," said Langer, who earned $262,500 for the victory. "What I've been through the last couple weeks -- in contention but not able to seal the deal -- it's very cool and important for my confidence, I think, to pull off a win here sooner rather than later."
Langer finally caught Peoples with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole. He took over at the top when Peoples made bogey on 16 after he sailed the green with his second shot and winged the ensuing chip 15 feet past the hole.
The six-shot deficit Langer clawed back from is the largest in tournament history by three. It's the largest comeback on the Champions Tour in more than three years.
Langer's most memorable shot of the day was one that actually could have sunk him.
Left with 218 yards over water to the par-5 18th green, Langer drew a hybrid and cleared the rock wall in front of the green by 2 feet. The ball settled about 8 feet from the cup.
"Hit it one groove too low," Langer said.
Three years after chipping in for eagle to win the 3M on the final hole, Langer this time missed his eagle try at the last. But the birdie did just fine, sealing his place as the tournament's first multiple-time winner since Hale Irwin won his third in 2002.
"Turned out perfect," Langer said.
For Peoples, Sunday was hardly the way he drew it up.
Ahead by three shots at 14 under to start the day, Peoples got to 17 under by the fifth hole. But he followed it up with 10 consecutive pars before unraveling at 16 with the bogey and finishing with a 70.
When he got to the 17th green Peoples asked his caddie -- for the first time since midway through the front nine -- where he stood on the leaderboard. He learned he was a shot back of Langer, and for all intents and purposes time had run out.
All that was left was second-guessing by a player simply not used to being in such a position. The last victory for Peoples, an alternate to begin the week, was 20 years ago on the PGA Tour.
"I wish I would have stayed a little more aggressive," Peoples said. "A pretty deflating feeling. I probably should have looked up to see what was going on on the board. You need to know."
Trophy finally in tow, Langer joined a waiting Nick Price on a chartered plane ride back to Florida on Sunday night for a much- needed break.
And probably a good bit of well-earned celebrating.
"I guess 10 under was good enough," Langer said.
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