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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 00:33 GMT 01:33 UK
Langer banishes Cup nightmare
By John Mathews
BBC Sport at Oakland Hills

Bernhard Langer celebrates Europe's victory

Few sports competitions can match the Ryder Cup when it comes to having a rich pageant of history and the leader of this victory procession should step forward and take a bow.

European captain Bernhard Langer engineered the biggest victory ever witnessed against the United States and in doing so helped cement his own place in the event's folklore.

That he would be spoken of as a true Cup legend in years to come was already assured.

But if fans had to pick a single memory of Langer in European colours prior to this weekend, it would probably not be a happy one.

When he missed a six-foot putt on the 18th green in the 1991 match against the United States at Kiawah Island it cost Europe the trophy.

His face, contorted with agony, is one of the Ryder Cup's enduring images.

At the time, people said he might never recover from such a catastrophic disappointment...the scale of the miss would forever engulf him.

Bernhard Langer
Agony for Langer as he misses a putt to win the Ryder Cup in 1991

Whoever thought that knew nothing of the man and, for him at least, that missed putt was a footnote, not a defining moment, in a fantastically successful career.

His roll of honours can now include the title "undefeated Ryder Cup captain" and he planned the whole thing to perfection, right from the moment he was given the job.

His demeanour, his preparation, his selections - everything was impeccable.

Tradition these days seems to be that the captaincy is not your job for as long as you want it, as it was in the days of Tony Jacklin and Bernard Gallacher.

But if Europe can find a man better equipped to lead them in two years' time at the K Club in Ireland, they should snap him up in an instant.

One suspects Langer doesn't swig champagne straight from the bottle too many nights in a year, but it was a satisfying sight to see him drinking in his victory on the 18th green.

It's a long, long, way from Kiawah Island to Oakland Hills and the journey had definitely been worth it.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: European captain Bernhard Langer





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