Sorry that the promised article about the promised article about the Deutsche Bank Players Championship took a little longer than expected: the harddrive of my laptop decided to kill itself, so I spent the last couple of days restoring data. But here we go.
After checking the tee times for Sunday I decided to go out early and follow Bernhard Langer around, he’ll still be around a couple of years but I wasn’t sure when I would have another chance of seeing him live. Turned out I wasn’t the only one to be insane enough to jump out of bed at 6:00 on a sunday morning, the dew was still on the fairways, the sun made it’s way through the haze and besides me some other twenty people showed up to follow Bernhard Langer and Fredrik Widmark around the course.
Langer started out good with a birdie to go three under, but he soon ran into trouble on the third. His tee shot ended up in the woods to the right side of the fairway:
He had to go back to the tee to put a second ball into play and ended up with double bogey whilst Widmark birdied the hole.
On the fourth hole Widmark placed his second shot left of the green as he came out of the rough. For his third shot the separation rope was moved down. Then, whilst Bernhard Langer was making his birdie put, one of the marshals was fuddling to get the rope back up, whilst doing so he was standing directly in the corner of the eye of Bernhard Langer. Langer missed the put and was really pissed about it. The marshal didn’t receive some warm words from him.
I followed the guys around until the sixth hole, then walked over to the third again to wait for the flight of Michael Campbell and Jarmo Sandelin. Both went into the final day at six under. And I was just in time to witness Jarmo Sandelins eagle putt. He had already birdied one and two and the eagle propelled him to ten under.
Campbell was paying all pars until the sixth hole. His second shot found the greenside bunker, but with a feeling bunker shot he placed his ball within one meter of the flag and made the birdie.
Jarmo obviously enjoyed his round whilst Michael was getting more and more upset, he threw away his putter after narrowly missing his birdie putt. After his birdie on the par 5 fifteenth Sandelin was in contention for the course record of 63, he only needed one more birdie to accomplish it. But then he ran into trouble on the 17th where his drive landed under a tree. It was funny to see him standing under the tree, trying to get his ball back on the fairway. His whole upper body was in the trees branches, you could only see his legs and the arms with the club (I forgot to take a picture). He made the green in three and played par. A bogey on the 18th gave him a final round of 65 and a place on the big leaderboards, as the top players hadn’t started their rounds yet.
After all this walking I hung around the island green ninth a little bit and (see course map), relaxed, watched some pros find the water and enjoyed the atmosphere. It was something between 11:00 and 12:00 and the club was getting more crowded. Somehow I expected more spectators though. I mean it was good to still be able to find a good spot to watch all around the course, but hey, it was the final day of one of only two European Tour tourneys in Germany with a very interesting field.
Round 12:00 I SMSed back and forth with Anne to meet up somewhere on the course. Anne was one of our mallorcan club testing crew back in february. I met her and two friends Anne #2 and Christoph aside the fairway of the 1st just in time to see the final six flights get on their way with players like Sergio Garcia, Gary Orr, Retief Goosen, Ian Woosnam, Lee Westwood and overall leader Robert Karlsson.
“Damn are these guys good”, I thought more than once during this day. It’s not just their length off the tee but also the precision of their shotmaking. For example, the par 5 fifteenth is 515 meters in length and has an uphill, downhill, uphill profile. Placing your drive over the hill, you’ll probably need some 310 meters off the tee, placing the shot to the right side of the fairway then gives you some extra distance because of the downhill roll of the ball. And then it is just a simple iron into the green, one putt and eagle. It looks so simple when you watch these guys do it.
But there are also the funny moments. Daniel Vancsik gave us a good show when we were standing on a small hill directly between the fifteenth and seventeenth fairway. Excellent position to watch the action on both holes. So Vancsik pushes his drive on the fifteenth and the ball lands in the fairway bunker of the 17th – some three meters from where we stand. Problem is: his ball and the 15th green are being separated by a big tree:
He decides to go around the left side of the tree and the shot barely makes it over the greenside bunkers of the 15th. He still shoots par. Then, back on the 17th, Vancsik shoots and – FORE! – lands his ball in the fairway bunker of the 15th. He takes it with humour and says “Hi, it’s me again.” as he walks past us for the second time in 15 minutes. Maybe there was a little bit of Mickelson in him as he picks up a three iron and walks into the bunker to play the ball. Ok, the bunker lip was flat and the ball was 2 meters away from it, but still, a three iron???? He shoots, the ball hits the bunker lip with a loud SMACK!, the ball gets high in the air and lands some 80 meters ahead. He still shoots par as you may have guessed.
For the final we moved down to the 18th fairway and watched the players come in. And I’m sorry that I have to say this, but Ian Woosnam looked like a golf hobbit amongst the other players, especially alongside the tall Robert Karlsson. Speaking of which, he lost his first tee shot on 18 in the bushes just opposite our position:
It was fun to see some twenty people hopping around the bushes just to find the ball. Which they didn’t. Why don’t pros play a provisional ball in the first place? Just like Langer in the morning, Karlsson had to go back to the tee box to shoot a second ball.
After a long, interesting and sunny day we slowly walked out the club just to meet Ralph, another guy that was in Mallorca with Anne and me. Funny incident. We all decided to meet next year, same place, same time!
(please check e13′s report about her week as a volunteer at the tournament (danke, Anke))
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