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Langer to split with caddie after 22 years

The longest partnership in golf is about to end. Bernhard Langer and the man who has stood by his side for the past 22 years, his caddie Pete Coleman, are to part after the Open.

There are other long-term relationships, such as Tom Watson and Bruce Edwards, who have clocked up over 20 years - but in separate periods - and in Europe Sandy Lyle and Dave Musgrove had spells of nine and three years together.

In a volatile form of employment - there is a constant turnover between players and caddies - no one has done 22 years consecutively. "People see me," said Coleman, "and they automatically say 'Where's Bernhard?'" Now no longer. In a move initiated by Coleman, he will work for Lee Westwood, while Langer will return to his base in Florida. It has been a very successful partner ship and Coleman, 62, said: "Basically, he wants to be mostly in America and I don't want to be stationed there. I don't want to have to work a couple of weeks in the States and then hang around on my own in some motel waiting for him to come out and play for another couple of weeks.

"We'll be parting as friends - there's no animosity - and in fact we're both a bit sad about the situation. But his circumstances have changed and I've got my life to lead. We've had some really good times together but I wanted something more stable. I don't want at my age to be jumping on transatlantic planes all the time."

Langer paid the caddie handsome praise. "We have had a wonderful time together," he said. "For many years it has worked for both of us but it can only work if it works for both of you."

In the past two decades Langer has been one of the most successful golfers in the world. He has won the US Masters twice and over 50 tournaments, in the process raking in over £9m in Europe and £4m in the US. He has also been the mainstay of 10 Ryder Cup teams.

But there have also been moments when Coleman has wished he were elsewhere. The German has contracted the "yips" on at least four occasions and once, in an Open at Royal Lytham St Annes, five-putted the 17th green. "I just had to close my eyes," said Coleman at the time.

He has also been one of the hardest-worked on the circuit. Langer is notorious for turning up not just with a spare driver or putter but with several of each. In Hamburg this year in the Deutsche Bank event Coleman carried a bag in the practice round that contained 22 clubs and when Langer arrived at the K Club in Ireland for the European Open he had 28 clubs.

But such perfectionism ensured a good living for both of them. After one win, with its accompanying bonus, Coleman went out and bought a Porsche.

During that time Coleman has been able to buy a house and support not only a wife and daughter but also his daughter's expensive hobby, horses. "She goes in for show- jumping and dressage," he said, "and she's brilliant. It's costing me £1,000 a month so I can't afford to stop working.

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