Langer breakthrough seems a matter of time

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 2, 2012 - 9:35 PM

Since hoisting the trophy at the 2011 ACE Group Classic, Langer has come tantalizingly close. He's finished in the top 10 in eight consecutive events and been in Sunday's final group in each of the past two Champions Tour majors.

Bernhard Langer hasn’t won in his past 24 Champions Tour events, but he’s finished in the top 10 in eight consecutive events.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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In his best German accent, Gary Hallberg imitated Bernhard Langer's response when Hallberg asked about the two-time Masters champion's future schedule last week.

"I am going to 3M," Hallberg said in a staccato monotone.

He then let out a mock, disappointed weep.

Even though Langer is in the midst of a 24-tournament victory drought on the Champions Tour, many consider him a favorite for the 3M Championship. He won the tournament in 2009.

A force on the 50-and-over tour from the moment he came aboard in 2007 (he won the fourth event he entered), Langer's previous oh-fer streaks had never stretched longer than 11 events.

Since hoisting the trophy at the 2011 ACE Group Classic, Langer has come tantalizingly close. He's finished in the top 10 in eight consecutive events and been in Sunday's final group in each of the past two Champions Tour majors.

"I'm thrilled that I've had opportunities and chances but not the outcomes," he said. "I've got to keep knocking on the door. It will open one of these days."

Ready for Rio?

He's past his prime to be a world competitor in Rio de Janeiro in the 2016 Summer Games, but put Nick Price in the camp of those who welcome golf as an Olympic sport.

"It's due; it's past due," the South African said. "How can you say golf is not an athletic sport? I'm excited about it. Golf has been left out for a long time."

Price is a big proponent of world competition. After making five appearances as a player, Price this summer was named as International team captain for the 2013 Presidents Cup.

Price is genuinely enthusiastic to talk about the depth of young talent outside the United States.

He called Japan's 20-year-old Ryo Ishikawa a potential "world beater" and said Ireland's Rory McIlroy, 23, is "as impressive as I've ever seen."

Price would have enjoyed the chance to play alongside them in a world competition. He called the Olympics "a phenomenal spectacle."

"To represent your country would have been a great thing," he said. "And if it gets some momentum [in 2016], it will be huge for the youngsters who are coming up."

Not so fast, said Mark O'Meara.

"Would I give up a tournament win I've had for a gold medal? I'm not so sure," he said.

The flip side

Perhaps better known to Minnesota golf enthusiasts as Tim Herron's caddie, Lance Ten Broeck will tee it up this week in Blaine. He earned his way into the 3M Championship via Tuesday's qualifying event.

Ten Broeck also qualified for the 3M in 2008 and finished near the bottom of the field.

"I'm happy to be back in," he said Wednesday. "I'm playing a lot better and hope to have a much better week."

Look for his boss to maybe make an appearance in the gallery Sunday.

Early start

Tee times for Saturday and Sunday were moved up to start at 7:15 a.m. because of the threat of rainy weather.

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