Greg Norman Holden Invitational
Greg Norman Holden Invitational
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Long prevails after Langer collapse

SYDNEY -- Bernhard Langer took a triple bogey at the last in the Greg Norman Holden International on Sunday to squander the chance of winning his first tournament since November 1997.

The German's remarkable lapse, which included a penalty for a marker infraction on the final hole, allowed New Zealander Michael Long to snatch the title.

Langer, twice a winner of the U.S. Masters, led by five strokes after nine holes of his final round and by one shot going to the par-3 last.

But his disastrous six handed the title to Long.

Long shot a closing 1-under-par 72 in the strong southerly wind which troubled all players to win on 9-under 283.

He finished one shot clear of fellow countryman Michael Campbell who shot a 74. Langer was a shot further back after shooting 80.

The 41-year-old Langer, attempting to break one of the longest droughts in his professional career, faltered dramatically in the gusty winds at The Lakes course.

He needed only to par the 225-yard final hole to beat Long by a shot.

Langer thought he had hit his 3-iron tee shot perfectly, but the ball drifted right and plugged in a bunker, 30 yards from the pin.

He then blasted the ball through the green and, when his chip finished well short, needed to sink a putt from nine feet to force a playoff with Long.

But Langer picked up his marker before replacing his ball and, after calling rules official Trevor Herden, confirmed he had incurred a one-stroke penalty and could no longer win.

He then two-putted, his triple bogey having cost him dearly.

"I don't know, I just picked it (the marker) up," a remarkably composed Langer said afterwards.

"It's never happened before, and it happened today. Don't ask me why I did it. I didn't do it on purpose, it just happened. I was probably too much focused on what I was trying to do."

Earlier, Long had himself avoided a double bogey on the 18th only by holing an eight-foot putt.

He said he was stunned by Langer's marker error.

Two years ago, at Hope Island on the Gold Coast, Long saw his ball move fractionally after he had addressed it on the 15th green in the final round and called the required penalty on himself, finishing one shot behind South African Ernie Els.

Long started six behind Langer and sparked his charge with a long birdie putt at the ninth and back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th. By the time he chipped in at the 16th he shared the lead with the German.

At the last he also found a bunker, punched the ball from a poor lie right through the green, and chipped back short before sinking the crucial putt.


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