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Bernhard Langer wins Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am when final round rained out

Bernhard Langer played one hole Sunday when rain halted play and made him the winner.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Bernhard Langer played one hole Sunday when rain halted play and made him the winner.

LUTZ — As Bernhard Langer looked at the second-round leaderboard of the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on Saturday, he knew he was going to have to play some good golf in the final round to win it. As it turned out, Langer only had to show up at TPC Tampa Bay and play one hole.

Steady rain delayed play at 9:50 a.m., and when the rain continued, tournament officials canceled the final round at 1:15 p.m. Because none of the 78 players completed the round, Champions Tour rules say only the first 36 holes count.

That gave the win to Langer, who made a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 18 Saturday to finish at 9-under 133, one shot ahead of Mark O'Meara and Mike Reid. Langer earned $255,000.

"Just to make birdie on 18 is a double bonus because it's one of the hardest holes on the course," Langer said. "I hit a really nice 6-iron there, and someone said it hit the stick. I had no idea it would be the deciding shot."

For Langer, 52, it is his 10th Champions Tour victory and his second this year. He won the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton.

This is the second time the Outback Pro-Am has crowned a 36-hole champion. Hale Irwin won the rain-shortened 2005 event.

"All of us would want to win it outright, but I don't mind it," said Langer, who has won 72 PGA, Champions and international events in his career. "I've won tournaments like this, and I had to share two tournaments because of darkness (Seve Ballesteros at the Lancome Trophy and Colin Montgomerie at the Volvo Masters). All sorts of great stuff happens out on the golf course."

On Sunday, fairways and greens could not take any more water after a rainy winter and spring.

"We had 4 inches of rain on the course two weeks ago. That pretty much saturated the whole area," Champions Tour assistant tournament director Gene Smith said. "If we hadn't had 4 inches two weeks ago, we probably could've continued to play.

"We determined that we didn't have enough daylight to get the round in, and our regulations do not allow us to continue play on Sunday if we don't think we can finish."

Before the cancellation, the tournament was up for grabs. O'Meara birdied the par-4 first hole when he chipped in from 30 feet to tie Langer. There were five others within three shots, including Tom Kite (7 under) and defending champion Nick Price (6 under).

Fred Couples, trying to become the first Champions Tour player to win four straight tournaments since Chi Chi Rodriguez in 1987, finished tied for 12th at 4 under. Couples was 2 over through four holes before the cancellation.

For O'Meara, 53, it is his ninth second-place finish on the Champions Tour. He has not won in his four years on the tour, a stretch of 57 tournaments.

"My congratulations to Bernhard for winning," O'Meara said. "But he's won 10 times out here. I mean, come on. I'm not a bad guy. Let some other people win."

O'Meara has had some heartbreaking runnerup finishes. But he has never finished second without a chance to make a final run on Sunday.

"In all my 30 years, I've won tournaments in playoffs and I've lost tournaments in playoffs," O'Meara said. "But this is the first time I've finished second a shot back but not being able to finish the tournament."

While Langer won't give back his winning check, he wishes conditions were different Sunday.

"I feel sorry for the tournament organizers because so much work goes into a tournament like this," Langer said. "And I know the spectators were looking forward to another great day of golf. But nobody controls this."

Bernhard Langer wins Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am when final round rained out 04/18/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 19, 2010 7:11am]
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