Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Langer's Putter Puts Him in Contention

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Langer's Putter Puts Him in Contention

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, Times-Union sports writer

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- Mastering his sometime-wayward flat stick, two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer put himself in a familiar position at The Players Championship -- playing on the weekend and within striking distance of the lead.

Langer backed up an opening-round 73 with a 68 yesterday for a 3-under 141, leaving him tied for eighth with five others, six shots behind leader Jerry Kelly's pace. It marks the 15th time in 16 starts that the German-born Langer has made the cut here and puts him at the front of the field of international players.

"I scored about as good as I could have," Langer said. "I didn't leave many shots out there."

With more than $800,000 in Players earnings, highlighted by second-place finishes in 1993 and '95, Langer ranks 11th in all-time tournament earnings. He stands to substantially pad that if he can maintain the putting stroke that he used only 25 times to navigate the slick Stadium Course greens.

"[Thursday] I didn't make a thing," said Langer, who had 31 putts in his opening round. "[Yesterday] the short game was very good."

Aside from bogeys at Nos. 10 and 13, Langer was the picture of proficiency around the greens. Only one of his birdie putts was longer than 10 feet; a 12-footer at No. 5 that came in the middle of three consecutive birdies.

The 68 equaled Langer's best round at the Players since he fired an opening-round 65 in 1993, when he finished five shots behind champion Nick Price. It was a shot better than his low round of 69 in 1995, when he finished one shot behind winner Lee Janzen.

If Langer is going to make another run at the title and his first win in the United States since his 1993 Masters title, he'll have to reverse a disturbing trend of weekend results at The Players. Despite a 71.78 scoring average in 15 appearances, his weekend average is just 72.2. Langer has only broken par once in his last six weekend rounds.

Reaching the weekend was a feat in itself for a strong international field. Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and Argentina's Angel Cabrera are a shot behind Langer at 2 under after respective second rounds of 71 and 70. …

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