View From The Fairway - Bernhard Langer is Remarkable
Golfshake's Derek Clements reveals his latest View From The Fairway!
BERNHARD LANGER is a one-off. At the age of 64, he has become the oldest winner on the Champions Tour, winning his 45th tournament. The German has won at least once every year for 15 years, as well as accumulating a mind-boggling $31m in prize money since turning 50. We shouldn’t be surprised. Langer has looked after himself, weighing the same now as when he was in his physical prime. In a professional career that began 46 years ago, Langer has won well over 100 tournaments, including two majors. He was a Ryder Cup stalwart, an inspirational Ryder Cup captain and remains one of the most consistent performers the game of golf has ever seen. All that is remarkable enough, but all the more so when you consider that he has achieved it despite being afflicted by the yips early in his career. He adopted a claw-style grip before anybody else and then resorted to the broomhandle putter. We are unlikely ever to see his like again. It would surprise nobody if he is still winning after he turns 70.
GOLFSHAKE surveys looking at the World Handicap System have revealed that many of you are concerned that it is open to abuse. And it seems that the R&A agrees. The ruling body has finally addressed the question of prize money available to amateurs but has decided that handicap golfers will not be allowed to accept cash prizes from competitions. Following a six-month consultation period it was decided to amend proposals that would have allowed handicap golfers to pick up money for winning club tournaments played on a handicap basis. New regulations will come into force on January 1. For the first time they will allow amateurs to receive unlimited sponsorship and display signage to provide exposure and reward for their backers. Expense-related restrictions will also be lifted and top amateurs will be allowed to pick up cash prizes to a maximum of £700 in scratch events where handicaps are not involved. But if you play in handicap events then you will not be collecting any money. The reason? The R&A believes players may be encouraged to cheat by playing off a more generous handicap than is commensurate with their ability. "There was a concern particularly with handicap golf," said the R&A's director of rules Grant Moir following the completion of the consultation period. "Cash prizes might just create a greater temptation than ordinary prizes. And obviously we're very keen to protect and maintain the integrity of the game in relation to how the rules of golf are applied and how the rules of handicapping are applied. It's a fine balance in a self-policing game. There was also a concern that there would be more money leaving the golf industry. The vouchers and the merchandise that are traditionally given as prizes keeps the money within the club and the industry. So we've changed that aspect and the ability to win prizes of money only applies in scratch-only competitions."
SAD news emerged with the death of Swedish golfer Fredrik Andersson Hed at the age of just 49. Andersson Hed turned professional in 1992 and went on to win twice on the Challenge Tour and once on the European Tour at the Italian Open in 2010. The 2010 European Tour season proved to be his most successful as he reached 22nd place in the season-ending rankings thanks to a runner-up finish at the BMW PGA Championship and five additional top tens. Andersson Hed represented Europe at the Royal Trophy under Colin Montgomerie, in a side which also featured fellow Swedes Henrik Stenson, Peter Hanson and Johan Edfors, in their victory against Asia in 2011. He also had runner-up finishes in the 2011 Scottish Open and both the Omega European Masters and Hong Kong Open in 2012. Andersson Hed retired from golf in 2015 after 358 European Tour appearances.
IT HAS been quite a journey for David Skinns. You probably haven’t heard of the 39-year-old Englishman but you may well be doing so in the year ahead on the PGA Tour. Skinns lost the final of the British Boys Championship in 2000 and turned professional shortly afterwards. Of course he dreamt about playing on the PGA Tour. Instead he spent years travelling around America playing on the Hooters Tour before making it to the Korn Ferry Tour. And, lo and behold, after years of toil, he made the breakthrough this year with a victory and five other top tens and is now playing as a rookie with the big boys. “I never gave up on my dream,” he said. "Obviously there were points in my career when I had to take a good, hard look at things, but everyone who has a dream has to follow some hard roads and I’m able to stand here and say I’m ready to keep the process going.”
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