Romain Langasque learned the merits of impeccable timing long ago. He would not have become the 2015 Amateur champion, achieved at the Carnoustie venue which has driven the world’s best golfers to the brink of meltdown, without such a virtue.
Upon achieving that success, the Frenchman insisted he was of a mind to join the professional ranks straight away. One step back and some careful consideration altered that plan; this Masters marked Langasque’s final event as an amateur. He signed off in the perfect fashion, a 68 representing the perfect recovery after he could fare no better than 83 in the treacherous conditions of day three.
Langasque produced a stunning chip-in on the 16th, providing one of four birdies in the closing five holes. His back nine of 31 would have been cherished by those seeking to claim the Green Jacket.
Langasque has thereby survived for the closing 36 holes of the Open and the Masters since his Amateur championship victory. On the Challenge Tour, which will now become his professional home – if perhaps not for long – the 20-year-old finished second in Kenya just last month.
“There is no tournament like this one,” The Frenchman said. “I really want to came back here really quickly. But my objective for now is finishing in the top 15 on the Challenge Tour rankings and going to the European Tour. After that, my dream is to play on the PGA Tour all the time. I will continue to play my game step by step and then we will see.”
As Langasque departed Georgia in fine heart, Ian Poulter offered a rueful glance. The Englishman signed for a fourth-round 71 but this major promised more, much more, when Poulter ended the first round at three under par. Whatever else Poulter lacks for now, there is no problem whatsoever with his desire; he cut a frustrated figure when discussing round four.
“It was a good step forward on Thursday and I probably got too frustrated after that and let things get to me,” Poulter said. “You can’t do that on this golf course, especially not when it’s playing as tough as it is.
“I’ve worked pretty hard to get my game in shape, so this week has been really disappointing. It really could have been a week that I could have taken advantage of. I didn’t, so it hurts.”
This year, of course, carries high significance for Poulter, who is desperate to be a part of Europe’s Ryder Cup team at Hazeltine. The event itself would benefit from Poulter’s presence, such is his status in the biennial match. And yet, Poulter himself knows only too well that past form is not sufficient to guarantee selection.
It is to Poulter’s credit that he will not cut corners in his effort to return to prominence from his current position outside the world’s top 50. A last-ditch trip to China late last year was proof of that hunger, as was his appearance in the recent Puerto Rico Open.
There is a substance behind Poulter’s style and a ferocious willingness to remain competitive which is commonly, and unfortunately, overlooked. A glance back to how he forged a career in the game, from essentially humble beginnings, offers insight into this.
“I will do anything I need to do,” Poulter said. “I will do US Open qualifying, I will do Open qualifying. If you are not giving yourself opportunities to play golf then you are stupid.
“In my situation, when you are 62 in the world and you want to improve, taking weeks off is difficult. Having an opportunity at final qualifying is an opportunity.
“To not play qualifying for an event that’s rewarded with 100 world ranking points, that is just a walking time bomb if you don’t want to go and play on a Monday. I will do what I need to do because one week will turn everything around.”
Martin Kaymer finds himself in a similar position to Poulter in Ryder Cup terms. Kaymer’s 72 on Masters Sunday was somewhat immaterial, his aspirations being fatally wounded by rounds of 75 and 79 to follow an opening 74. “At the moment I’m not in the team either, so I’m rooting for myself,” Kaymer said. “But Poults has been such a strong player for us. He has a fantastic record in the Ryder Cup, so of course we need him at Hazeltine. So far it is shaping up to be a very young team, so we need players like Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood to come through strongly. They are in the mix already and I’m sure they know what they have to do.”
Sergio García spent his Sunday in the company of Bubba Watson, the Spaniard outscoring the two-time Masters champion by 71 to 76.
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