It was late on a Wednesday night in mid-March. At this point in a tournament week on the PGA Tour Champions, the world’s best golfers age 50 and older are usually on the driving range, putting green or chipping area, needing to hone their swings, their psychology or whatever. Let’s work on it. Get ready for battle on Friday when the real bullet count begins. Just not this Wednesday.
Several of the 78 players set to compete in the Hoag Classic left Newport Beach Country Club early after the Pro-Am was canceled due to weeks of rain in Southern California. Some were never seen in the first place. why bother? As the 19th-century philosopher, Scarlett O’Hara, once said, “After all, tomorrow Is Some other day.”
However, this was not the case for one in 78. He had no plans to wait till tomorrow. Every day matters to him. Putting in the work every day is important to be the best he can be. That was his mindset growing up in Germany since the 1970s, a country not known for producing world-class golfers. And he was not about to change now at the ripe old age of 65.
So, on this chilly Wednesday afternoon, Bernhard Langer was hitting chip shot after chip shot. Getting “the feel of the grass” as he put it.
Langer later explained, “Every golf course has different grasses.” “You need to practice the short game because the club passes through the ground a little differently with different grasses and putting poa anua greens is different than putting Bermuda greens.”
Attention to detail is essential for Langer. “I don’t want any surprises out there,” he said. Who else would do that kind of work?
None, and that’s one reason why he scripted history on Sunday as the winningest senior golfer of all time, surpassing Hal Irwin with 46 wins at the 43rd US Senior Open at Centerworld in Wisconsin.
No one saw this day coming, and that includes Langer. At least not when on August 27, 2007, he pulled off a huge 5–0 victory and made his second career start in his favorite sport.
Langer said of his senior aspirations, “When I first came out, I was hoping to finish in the top five or top 10 on this tour, which was a reasonable target.” As far as anything more ambitious, Langer admitted to looking at Irvin’s remarkable 45 wins (16 more than the next man on the career wins list, Lee Trevino) and thought “it’s not going to break for a long time”. Is.”
Only when Langer clicked on senior winning No. 40 in the summer of 2019, shortly before he turned 62, did the target really emerge. “I shouldn’t have won at this age,” he thought, “but there are always exceptions, and I was one of the leading players there every year.”
Langer’s first Senior Tour win came in October of his debut season in 2007, the Adminstaff Small Business Classic, which he won by eight strokes. Only nine months earlier, Irwin, then 61, had claimed his 45th and last senior victory in Hawaii. Talk about changing the guard.
Langer won three times in 2008 and four times in 2009. There hasn’t been a year when the World Golf Hall of Famer hasn’t won at least one event, and his 46 wins include 12 senior major championships, another record he holds. , three over Gary Player and four over Jack Nicklaus.
Then again, how did Langer surpass Irvine in the mid-60s, no less?
The conventional wisdom on this circuit has always been to get your winnings (and paychecks) as early as possible, preferably before age 55 or 56, when your body really starts to break down – they hit it against the wall. Says – and the new “youth” get on board.
However, Langer has won 13 times since he turned 60. This is more wins than all except 24 players in their entire senior career. And Langer is the only player to win the title after the age of 64, having done so five times so far.
Suffice it to say that Langer has kept himself in remarkable shape and has remained relatively healthy, something no one guarantees at this stage of a player’s career. Or really at any level.
Peter Jacobsen suggested, “Now put a picture of him at 21 next to a picture of him at 65, and apart from maybe a few wrinkles around his eyes and on his face, I see no difference in Bernhard Langer then.” Bernhard Langer now.”
His belief in God has been another factor in his favor. A born-again Christian since the mid-1980s, he approaches the sport and his life with an inner peace that his peers no doubt dream of. “I played with a lot of purpose,” he said. “I knew whether I missed the cut or won, God would love me.”
Beyond these factors is the intangible quality that all great players of the game have. Call it will, determination, whatever. You either have it or you don’t, and he has it in spades. There is no other way to explain what the man has achieved. What is certain is that he exceeds most members of his profession.
Take the case of the yips, which Langer has had to win on several occasions.
He was joined by Tony Jacklin at an event in the early 1980s when another member of the threesome, Sam Torrance, asked Langer in the scoring tent, in reference to a very short putt he had just made, whether he had made it. Hit once or twice.
Langer’s presentation was “so shaky,” Jacqueline explained, “that Sam had to raise the question.” (Just once, Langer assured Torrance.) Those days, as you might expect, were tough for him. Langer said, “People didn’t even want to see me and you can’t hide.”
Keep in mind, this was a player who won 42 times on the European Tour and three times on the PGA Tour, including two Masters victories. There was never a question of talent. But had to stay mentally sharp.
Of all the putts he missed, one stands out—a six-footer on the final green during his Ryder Cup singles match on Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course in 1991, ironically against Irwin, which put America ahead of Europe. Gave me victory. “Battle from the Coast”. It’s hard to imagine any player in the game feeling more pressure than Langer at that moment.
Jacqueline was very worried, and she had good reason. “I really thought this was a potential career-changer,” he said. “It must have been a devastating thing for a lot of people.”
It was devastating, all right. So devastating that he won the German Masters the very next week over Australia’s Roger Davis on the first playoff hole. To reach the playoff, he holed a 10-foot putt on the last hole of regulation. If it doesn’t tell you what man is made of, nothing will.
Langer has not been dominant in any single aspect of the game, which makes no sense. “He’s pretty good at everything,” Li Zhenzhen said. “He plays it straight, his short game is great, and he’s really good from inside 10 feet.”
Or, as Paul Goydos said, “Does he do anything better than me? No, he just beats me.”
Goydos said Langer’s success should make everyone re-evaluate long-held beliefs about athletes and the aging process. “He doesn’t fit any of these frameworks,” Goydos suggested. “Mentally, he is as sharp as anyone else here. He doesn’t make (mistakes).”
In the end, it comes down to one simple question: How badly do you want it?
When it comes to Langer, the answer is clear.
Billy Andrade recalls the time he came to the 3M Championships just outside Minneapolis in his 2014 rookie season. That was Tuesday. He was there to collect his courtesy car when he saw Langer on the driving range. Just two days earlier, Langer had captured the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl in Wales by 13 strokes!
“He was the only one (out there),” Andrade said. “It was mind boggling. He was already focusing on the next tournament.
Grass is being felt, no doubt about it.