SNOQUALMIE — Bernhard Langer is not a Seattle native and hometown favorite like Fred Couples, but for the second time in a month Langer played the part of an adopted son by winning the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge by three strokes ahead of runner-up Nick Price.
“Maybe I should move here,” quipped Langer, who also won the United States Senior Open at Redmond’s Sahalee Country Club four weeks ago. “I certainly like the area. And I like this golf course.
“I enjoyed myself last year when I played here (at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, where he tied for third) … and it was nice to play good this year.”
On the 18th tee Sunday, Langer turned to Price and said, “There must be something in the air here in Seattle that’s good for me.”
Langer had a 3-under-par 69 on Sunday for a three-round total of 18-under 198. That ties the tournament record of 2009 champion Loren Roberts.
Price, who was the first-round leader after a 63, had a 1-under 71 on Sunday and a three-round total of 15-under 201.
Seattle native Couples finished third after his best round of the week, a 5-under 67 that left him with a 9-under total of 207.
Langer began the day with a one-stroke lead over Price, and the two men went head to head over the final 18 holes. After five holes, Langer’s margin was five shots, the result of a birdie on No. 4 and Price’s bogeys on the third, fourth and fifth holes.
Price was four shots back at the turn, but then carved the deficit to two shots on No. 11 by rolling in an 18-foot birdie putt while Langer was missing a 4-footer for par. Langer coaxed in birdie putts on the 15th and 16th holes, and put an exclamation point on his victory with a tap-in birdie on No. 18 after nearly holing a lob wedge from 71 yards.
“It missed (the hole) twice,” he said with a smile. “It missed going up and then missed coming back (with backspin).”
The victory was Langer’s fifth on the Champions Tour this year, including wins in recent weeks at the Senior British Open and the U.S. Senior Open. His paycheck for the week was $285,000 and pushed him over $2 million in tour winnings for the third consecutive year.
“I think right now I’m playing almost as good as I ever played,” said Langer, the 1985 and 1993 Masters champion. “I think my golf swing is improved. My caddy said he hasn’t ever seen me drive the ball this well as the last few weeks.”
Langer played four rounds at Sahalee CC at 8 under par and he was 18 under for the three-round Boeing Classic, putting him at 26 under for the two Puget-Sound area events. His scores in all seven rounds were in the 60s.
“He’s like a metronome,” Price said with approval. “He played super solid today. He’s a tough, tough competitor.”
Price had an outstanding tournament, too, but his three early bogeys left him “behind the 8-ball,” he said. “I needed my A game to beat him today, but I just didn’t have it.”
Couples, the obvious fan favorite this week, had his chances of winning undone by a three-hole stretch on Saturday where he lost four strokes to par. Also, he simply did not putt well in the three days, finishing with 85 putts or 10 more putts than Langer.
His putt on No. 18 Sunday, a downhill 10-foot eagle try that slid just right of the hole, sort of typified his week on the greens.
“I wasn’t very close (to winning),” Couples acknowledged. “But I don’t look at defeat as too much of a bad thing anymore. At my age (as a first-year player on the 50-and-over Champions Tour), I have a lot of chances to win events. But I didn’t in my hometown, which is disappointing.”
Four weeks ago, Couples finished second to Langer at Sahalee CC. But if Couples was somewhat disheartened by the two outcomes, he loved the chance to see old friends and be given a hero’s welcome.
“I don’t come back to Seattle much at all,” he said. “But to come back and play … these two (tournaments) was truly remarkable. This week was just as fun as Sahalee.”
And in future Boeing Classics, he added, “I’m going to play every single year, that’s a given.”
A crowd of 30,000 fans attended Sunday’s final round, pushing the total for the three days to 75,000. Both are Boeing Classic records. … Defending champion Loren Roberts had an even-par round of 72 and finished at 5-under 211, tied for 12th. … Tom Pernice Jr. started the day in third place at 10 under par, but had a disappointing round of 4-over 76 and finished tied for eighth. … Russ Cochran had Sunday’s best round with a 6-under 66, leaving him tied for sixth at 7-under 209.