“I’ve always said as long as I’m healthy and I have fun doing it, and I’m good at it or have some success, I will continue”
Bernhard Langer, three times an Irish Open champion, and designer of renowned “The Links Portmarnock” golf course in Dublin, suggested last December that he might ease up on his PGA Tour Champions schedule for 2022.
After all, he is 64, has been a professional for 46 years, is the oldest pro in history to win tournaments, and has pretty much done it all and seen it all in golf. What has he left to prove?
In 2020-2021, the seasons were combined because of the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic, presenting a schedule of 39 tournaments through that period. Uber-competitor Langer had the fitness and desire to play every one of those events.
By the time the last putt dropped on the Tour’s campaign, the pride of Germany was once again the leading money winner and had taken his total of wins on the over-50s circuit to 42.
This, in addition to his two Masters victories, one other PGA Tour win, and 61 titles worldwide during his regular career. Put your feet up Bernhard, and think about retirement? Not a chance.
From January 20 to March 6 Langer teed it up in four tournaments, finishing with four top-10s. These included a win in the Chubb Classic Naples, Florida in February, and a runner-up the following week at the Cologuard Classic.
In the Chubb Classic he led wire to wire, earning his 43rd Champions Tour success which includes 11 Senior major titles.
At that point he needed only two more wins to match Hale Irwin’s Seniors record of 45 victories.
It’s a phenomenal achievement. Remember that when he turns 65 on August 27, Langer will be 15 years older than the latest crew of newbie Seniors who qualify once they hit their 50th birthday.
Last year Langer was playing in The Ally Challenge event on his birthday. Typical of the man, he shot his age that day giving himself a special birthday present.
“Just shows you the strengths of the mind. If you put something in your mind and a goal, and sometimes you can achieve it. It’s the first time I shot my age. I’ve tried for two years,” he said after that special 64 for a share of the lead.
In the last event, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Langer went one better with a 63 en route to topping the money list for the 11th time.
Among those who can test their mettle against the German star on this Tour are fellow major champions Pádraig Harrington and Darren Clarke.
Interesting to note that the trio were all born in August. Harrington will be a callow 51 on August 31. Darren Clarke, twice a Champions Tour winner, will celebrate his 54th birthday on August 21.
How does Langer keep going? He told Helen Ross of PGA Tour.com: “I love the game and I love the people that are out here
“I’ve always said as long as I’m healthy and I have fun doing it, and I’m good at it or have some success, I will continue. And if one or two of those things are not there, then it’s time to pack up.”
Langer is always asked how he has lasted so long as a pro.
“I’m not sure I can answer. I’ve been probably blessed with good genes,” he said.
“And I think if you’ve been blessed with good genes and you’ve been blessed with hand-eye coordination and sporting ability – I was always good at every sport pretty much when I was younger – and you work at it, I think that’s a good combo for success.”