Evergreen Langer still loving life on the fairway at 63

by | Apr 9, 2021 | 0 comments

Bernhard Langer -Mercedes

John Shortt

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It was at November’s Masters last year when legendary German, Bernhard Langer etched his name deeper into Augusta National folklore when he became the oldest player to make the cut at the tournament. Aged 63 years, 2 months and 17 days, Langer moved ahead of American Tommy Aaron, competing over the weekend at Augusta before completing a top-30 finish.

Langer made his Masters debut in 1982 and three years later became the first German-born player to win a Major. 11-years after that he posted a final round 70 to remarkably capture a second Augusta National Green Jacket and has since gone on to dominate the over-50’s circuit on the Champions Tour.

This year marks Langer’s 38th Masters and posting a two-over par round of 74 on Thursday, who’s to say the evergreen German won’t go on to break his own record this week amongst the pines and make another halfway cut?

We were delighted to catch up with the now 11-time Senior Major champion who also became a grandfather to three grandchildren in the last 12 months after his opening round to discuss all things Masters, from the Champions Dinner on Tuesday, to his idea of this week’s winner, to his own form and fitness, and plenty in between:

How was this year’s Champions Dinner?

It was wonderful as always. The camaraderie between the players is very special. Just to be in the same room with those guys is amazing for me. It was great to see everyone. The evening brings together great legends of the game with the young, upcoming stars. Dustin Johnson served a wonderful dinner and we demolished a few bottles of red wine – but it is a dinner for which the champion never minds paying! We all thanked him and he said: “I am just glad I am part of this circle of winners.”

Tiger Woods sent us a message via Ben Crenshaw, who speaks on the golfers’ behalf at the dinner. Tiger said how he really missed being at the Masters and that the tournament means so much to him, and that he really appreciates all the good wishes he has received from all the guys in the room. He said he hoped to be back in the mix with us in the near future.

– Can Rory McIlroy win the Masters?

I played with Rory here in the third round last November and he shot 67 and made it look pretty easy. The course is suited to him because Rory hits the ball very high and far, with lots of spin and that is what you need around here. Hitting the ball like that is why Jack Nicklaus won here so many times.

I don’t understand why Rory was chasing distance, trying to hit the ball further like Bryson DeChambeau. Rory hits the ball plenty long and straight. He has realised that was the wrong thing to do and I am convinced Rory will come back to his best, but the question is can he do it in the Masters? He is trying to complete the Grand Slam which adds pressure.

Golf is like life. It has its ups and downs, highs and lows and you just need to work at it and have a good team around you, to guide you in the right direction.

– You also played with DeChambeau in the 2020 Masters. What do you make of his approach to the game?

Bryson DeChambeau has taken golf training to another level. He decided he wanted to gain 30 or 40 pounds of muscle to translate into more clubhead speed, and he went after that target very professionally. He thought it through, got professional advice and it is amazing what he has done.

He constantly experiments. Two days ago, he told me he was using a driver with a loft of 4.25 degrees. Most of us out here hit between eight and 10 degrees, yet he has four degrees of loft and he hits the ball sky-high. Everything is different about him; his shafts are the same length, his grips are thicker. I take my hat off to him. He doesn’t copy anyone. He really does his own thing and, in many ways, it is totally new to the game.

– In March you received treatment in Germany for tendinitis in your left knee. How is the recovery going?

The treatment has done me a lot of good. I returned from Germany a couple weeks ago and already my knee felt stronger and better, and I needed it too because walking around the golf course at Augusta National is not easy. It is very hilly and demanding. I played two rounds of golf in five weeks which is not ideal preparation for the Masters, but I needed to get my knee done. I made it around the course today without any major pain and felt pretty good physically.

– Thursday was your first tournament round since the end of February. You held it together so well but there was a sting in the tail with two dropped shots on 17 and 18, for a score of 74, two over par. How do you feel about your round?

I felt like I held it together. There were a few loose shots early on, but my short game made up for it. I started playing better on the back nine but then my putter went cold. I had a straight, five-foot putt for birdie on 16 and I missed it. That would have taken me to one-under par. I finished par-bogey-bogey instead of what could have been birdie-par-par so that leaves a sour taste, but I have looked at the leaderboard and right now, two-over par really does not look that bad!

Good and bad shots are just inches from each other on this golf course. It is so easy to make a double or triple bogey from a shot that is just a couple inches off target.

– Can you take better advantage of your experience and course knowledge when the Masters is played in April, as opposed to the November dates last year?

The greens are much firmer this week than they were in November, when the course was very wet and soft, and these conditions are harder, but April is just a better month for the tournament. The rye grass is fully grown and beautiful and the club has full control over the moisture in the greens.

– How did you feel seeing Lee Elder as an honorary starter?

It was a great honour for Lee Elder to be an honorary starter and it was a wonderful idea. Lee was a great competitor, and he is a wonderful gentleman, and it was not easy for him to play on Tour. To me, everybody is created the same, we are all unique and special and it does not make any difference what colour we are.

-Earlier this week you were able to experience the Mercedes-Maybach GLS. What do you think of the car?

I really like it. It’s a fantastic car, both visually and in terms of luxury and space. This for sure is the benchmark when it comes to a luxury SUV. Mercedes-Maybach stands for luxury at its best and this is the proof point. Beyond the interior and exterior design, which I really like, I especially appreciate the comfort. I guess you can’t get more comfort within a SUV. Definitely the perfect choice when you go on a (golf) trip with friends or family.

-If you could take your family and friends out on a trip in the Mercedes-Maybach GLS. Where would you go?

I guess in the US it could be almost everywhere, but definitely outside the big cities and closer to mountains and nature. Colorado and Utah would be good spots. In Europe it would be definitely the Alps. I could imagine starting at my hometown in Bavaria and from there straight to the Alps – yes, that would be the perfect route.

-This week at The Masters, all players get their very own dedicated Mercedes-Benz. Do you prefer a shuttle service or driving by yourself like this week at the Masters?

Oh, I like being shuttled but it is always nice to hold the steering wheel yourself! It calms me down and lets me have a relaxed start into the day. The approach to the ANGC’s premises on Magnolia Lane towards the clubhouse is always a special sight. In addition, my own vehicle provides me with added safety as part of all the measures to protect against Covid-19.

Bernhard Langer gets his second round underway at 16.54 (Irish time). He begins the day just inside the projected cut-mark at +2.

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