BLAINE, Minn. — Apply pressure to two different objects and you are likely to get unique results. The same holds true for people as well and professional golfers are certainly no exception.
As he entered the final round of the 3M Championship on Sunday, David Peoples had the weight of the world on his shoulders. At stake was not only the biggest check of his career, but a 12-month exemption and the ability to play whenever and wherever he wanted on the Champions Tour. The pressure was a lot to take even before the round began as Peoples admitted, "I was nervous the whole day" and while he did a nice job of keeping his nerves in check for most of his round on Sunday, he finally cracked on the 17th hole.
A bogey on the previous hole certainly didn't help his cause, but it wasn't until the 17th green that Peoples was even aware of where he stood. Upon hearing that he was now trailing after holding the lead all day, Peoples felt, as he put it, "deflated".
As if the bad news he had just received wasn't enough, news of who had taken the lead was the death nail.
Bernhard Langer had come from six strokes off the pace to start the day and finally pulled ahead of Peoples after 16 holes. If there was anyone on the Champions Tour that wasn't going to bow to the pressure of being in the lead, it was Langer.
Langer was no stranger to this situation, his 14 wins on the Champions Tour can attest. Langer was also aware of what pressure can do to an opposing player when applied properly. When asked about the man he eventually ran-down, Langer said, "[Peoples] hasn't won a lot lately and he's a great player, but I figured if I could put the pressure on, it might make it harder to close the deal".
Though it had been nearly 18-months since his previous win, Langer showed no signs that the moment was too large. Perhaps he didn't have time to think about it, or maybe he was just too focused on the goal he had set prior to the final round, a lofty 10-under par. Whatever the case, it was Langer who walked away with the trophy and Peoples who was left wondering how to better deal with the pressure next time.
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