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Langer looks for first win in 18 months

Double Masters champion Bernhard Langer seeks a record sixth German Open title this week to end a drought of 18 months and consolidate his Ryder Cup ranking.

Langer's last European Tour win was the 1997 German Masters but the local hero at the Nick Faldo-designed Berlin Sporting Club course has a chance to buck the trend in his national tournament which begins on Thursday.

The 1985 and 1993 Masters winner is easily the star of the one-million-dollar event which has lost two of its other chief attractions, defending champion Stephen Allan of Australia and Swedish Ryder Cup player Per-Ulrik Johansson. Both have qualified for the U.S. Open and have withdrawn to fly to America.

Langer, who equalled the European Tour 18-hole score of 60 while winning his 1997 German Masters, looks to continue his remarkable record on home soil.

Not only does he share the record for German Open titles with England's player-turned-commentator Peter Alliss, but Langer has won 10 times in his home country.

A first prize of 170,000 dollars this week would enable Langer to climb the Ryder Cup table from his current eighth spot in his quest for a 10th consecutive appearance for Europe.

"I'm in and out of form but hopeful I can add another German title and the record would be nice," said Langer.

"But playing in Germany is more of a challenge. There is a lot of demand on my time spent with activities away from the course.

"I've done well in front of my home crowd in the past though and I like being back in Germany.

"I don't really know where my game is at the moment. It was good at the start of the PGA at Wentworth but then deteriorated.

"A win would help one of my goals this year, to make the Ryder Cup. Every year we have young guys coming in to join the experienced, proven guys and that seems to work."

The nearest Langer came to winning this year was his runner-up spot in the early-season Heineken Classic in Perth, Australia, but he has stayed consistent and has finished seventh, 11th and seventh in his last three events.

If Langer does achieve victory it will come too late to earn him a place in next week's U.S. Open, the first time he has missed the major for 14 years.

Four players at Bad Sarrow are warming up for Pinehurst: Langer's fellow German Sven Struver, England's Peter Baker and Scots Sam Torrance and Andrew Coltart.

Coltart is hoping a mystery chest pain which needed treatment on Wednesday will not threaten his second U.S. Open appearance.

Reuters