HONG KONG // Bernhard Langer is poised to make history at the co-sanctioned UBS Hong Kong Open this weekend after the rejuvenated German moved into position to become the oldest winner on both the European and Asian Tours. Langer, 51, rolled back the years with a superb seven-under-par 63 to put him on 11-under for the tournament, two shots behind the leader, the Briton Oliver Wilson and one adrift of the Taiwanese Lin Wen-tang.
While the two-time US Masters winner said that the accolade of becoming Europe and Asia's most senior champion would not rank among his greatest achievements, it would "certainly be very special". The European Tour's oldest winner is currently Des Smyth, who won the 2001 Madeira Island Open at 48, while Choi Sang-ho holds the same record for the Asian Tour, the Korean winning the Maekyung Open aged 50 in 2006.
Langer said that his four successes this year on the Champions Tour and the shorter Hong Kong layout that emphasises precision over firepower had helped hone his competitive edge and bolster his chances. "No matter what I do, I'm not going to drive it 330, 350 (yards) like some of these guys do," Langer said. "There are certain golf courses on the regular tour where I just don't have much chance because I'm so much shorter than some of the long bombers out there. But on a course like this one, I think I can compete quite well if my game's OK."
Despite lacking in length, Langer showed his class with a standout round that included a chip-in eagle on the seventh and supreme composure on the greens, nailing a string of long putts to card four successive birdies over the back nine. The German, who won this tournament before it was co-sanctioned in 1991, knows he has plenty to do if he is secure a first European Tour title since the 2002 Volvo Masters, which he shared with Colin Montgomerie.
"I'm going to attack certain holes and play a little more conservative on others," he said. "It just depends what the golf course gives me and the pin placements and how well I'm striking the ball." *Reuters