Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Golf News : Masters blow for Bernhard Langer

Next week's Masters celebrates the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus winning his 18th major and the launch of the official rankings.

Bernhard Langer, the first of the 14 players who have held the number one spot since then, will not be at Augusta to mark the occasion, though.

Having played in every Masters since 1983, the two-time winner had thumb surgery last week after a cycling accident. He will be out of action for about two months.

"I'm obviously disappointed that the injury occurred, but especially disappointed with such an important part of my schedule coming up, including The Masters," said the 53-year-old, who has won 14 times and earned over £4.7million on the seniors circuit in America.

Langer headed the rankings for only three weeks, but that was not the shortest reign. Tom Lehman had it for just seven days in 1997.

Compare that to the 623 weeks - almost 12 years in 10 separate spells - of Tiger Woods and the 331 weeks of Greg Norman.

Six Europeans have now been number one. Seve Ballesteros followed Langer, then came Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam, and after Lee Westwood dethroned Woods last October, Martin Kaymer is in his fifth week.

At the 1986 Masters, Ballesteros, Langer, Sandy Lyle and British amateur champion Garth McGimpsey were the only Europeans in the field. Next week there will be 25, 16 of whom have won in America.

If Langer, Ballesteros and Faldo played, that would have been 19 out of 28, of course.

As for the players who have been in the top 10 of the rankings the most, they are Ernie Els - 788 weeks from 1994 to January this year - then Woods on 729 and Phil Mickelson on 672 without ever making it to top spot.

Another chance for the left-hander to overtake Woods for the first time since 1997 went begging on Sunday at Bay Hill.

With Woods in the clubhouse on one under par after a bogey, double bogey finish to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Mickelson needed to par the last five holes to knock him down to sixth in the world.

However, he bogeyed three of them to finish joint 24th with Woods and will try again at this week's Houston Open before concentrating on his defence of The Masters.
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