NAPLES, Fla. — Bernhard Langer admitted he felt more pressure than he thought he would heading into the final round of Sunday’s Chubb Classic, clinging to a one-shot lead.
It sure didn’t seem like by the way he played.
The 65-year-old birdied five of the final seven holes at Tiburon Golf Club to pull away for a record-tying three-shot victory, his 45th on the PGA Champions Tour, tying the longtime mark held by Hale Irwin.
The seemingly ageless Langer shot his age and beat his age in three days at the Chubb, opening with a 64 and closing with a 65. He finished 17 under for the tournament and won $270,000 out of the event’s $1.8 million purse.
“Right now I feel relieved and grateful and thankful for everybody that’s been on my team and helping me throughout these years,” said an emotional and reflective Langer following his historic win. “For a German kid from a village of 800 people starting from a caddie to do what I’ve done, it takes a lot of people to do that, not just one.”
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Langer extended his own record with his fifth career Chubb Classic victory, the most he’s won any tournament. Langer, who led wire-to-wire in winning last year’s Chubb Classic, joined Lee Trevino (1990-91) and Mike Hill (1993-94) as the only golfers to win the event in back-to-back years. He also won in 2011 at The Quarry, and in 2013 and 2016 at TwinEagles in Naples.
Unlike his 2022 Chubb victory, Langer faced a series of challenges from a handful of golfers Sunday, most notably Padraig Harrington and Dicky Pride.
Harrington shot a 6-under 29 on the front nine to take a one-shot lead. But on the 14th hole, he drove his tee shot into the penalty area and it took him three shots to get out, leading to a double bogey. Harrington did manage to eagle 18 for the second day in a row to finish with a 7-under 65 Sunday. He ended 14-under for the tournament, tied for second place with Steve Stricker.
Pride, who has three career wins and a single Champions victory on his resume, aced the 10th hole and birdied 15 and 16 to grab a share of the lead. But on 17, Pride pulled his drive right, landing in the woods and finishing with a bogey. He followed with a bogey on 18 to end up with a 4-under 68 and a fourth-place finish at 13 under.
Langer, meanwhile, mostly played his characteristic mistake-free style, though he did misread a couple of early putts that led to pars. However, on the 12th hole, he managed to lip one in for a birdie that seemed to ignite him going down the stretch.
“I played solid, I played good, but I didn’t set it on fire,” Langer said. “And all of a sudden the last eight holes or something I made five or six birdies coming in and that’s when you have to do it, when everything is on the line.
“Sometimes, it takes a bit of luck, you know? A putt can lip in, another time it lips out, and that’s all the difference in winning or finishing second or third.
For Langer, especially in Naples, ending up in first place is the most likely result. And with history on the line, Sunday was no exception.