BLAINE, Minn.(AP) One of the best putters on tour, Bernhard Langer won the 3M Championship with his sand wedge.
Langer chipped in for eagle on the 18th hole Sunday to earn his second straight win on the Champions Tour, and fourth of the year.
His 7-under 65 gave him a 16-under 200 for the tournament, one shot better than Andy Bean.
Standing about 10 feet off the back fringe, Langer softly chipped the ball on the edge of the green and watched it roll about 10 feet into the hole. Langer turned and pointed to the crowd with both arms raised when the ball dropped in the hole . It was his only eagle of the tournament.
“It came out a little hot, but right on line, hit the back of the cup, and popped up an inch or two and then disappeared,” he said. “Before I played that shot I told my son, Stefan, ‘I’m going to make this.’ Sometimes you just have a feeling like you can do it.”
It was the first eagle to win a tour event since Loren Roberts at the 2006 Turtle Bay Championship.
Standing 216 yards from the hole on the par-5, Langer sliced a hybrid over the lake and off the back of the green to set up the winning shot.
“To eagle the last hole to win, you’ve made a couple great shots and he certainly came through with that,” said Bean, who birdied the final hole. “I outplayed him the first day, but he outplayed me the last two days.”
Bean has three second-place finishes this year – twice when Langer won.
“It’s an empty feeling when you finish second, but I birdied the last hole, and thought I birdied 17,” Bean said. “We got a few more weeks this year so I can try to fill it up. I just need to play a little bit better off the tee and a little bit better into the greens.”
Two shots behind Nick Price at the start of the final round, Langer birdied Nos. 6 and 7, and started with three straight birdies on the back nine to take the lead at minus-14.
“That got me to the point where I felt I must be getting close to the leaders,” he said. “I saw on No. 7 or 8 that I was two or three behind, and then I didn’t see (the leaderboard) until 17 when I was tied for the lead.”
Langer’s four wins have come in 12 events. He has finished out of the top nine just three times in amassing a seemingly insurmountable 660-point lead in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup points standings. In 37 career tour events, Langer has eight wins.
He admits he may be playing some of the best golf of his career in “the last two or three years,” but cannot explain why. “There’s always somebody who’s a little bit better than the rest. I’m trying to be that somebody out here.”
His competitors can cite reasons why.
“He works really, really hard. Look at the shape he’s in,” said Price, the second-round leader who shot a 71 to finish four shots back. “Out of everyone, he probably putts the best. That’s what you need to do out here.”
Using a shorter belly putter than at his last tournament, Langer had 28 putts each round, nearly two strokes below his season average.
Price could not conquer the greens, missing key putts on Nos. 15 and 16, after missing, what he estimated five or six previous birdie chances.
“My putter went south on me today,” Price said. “If I start shaking a few putts in, the boys better look out.”
Scott Hoch (66) finished two shots back. Tom Kite shot his second 67 at the TPC Twin Cities to finish fourth.
Steve Thomas shot a 67 to finish tied for a career-best fifth place with Price.