Anyone registering shock and disbelief over Bernhard Langer’s remarkable feat in winning back to back Senior Majors just eight days apart simply doesn’t begin to appreciate the mental fortitude of the man.
Less than a month short of his 53rd birthday, Langer simply refuses to yield to Old Father Time. At the weekend, the formidable German became the first person since Tom Watson in 2003 to capture Senior Major titles in consecutive weeks. But that only tells half the story.
After landing his first Senior Open Championship, presented by MasterCard, at Carnoustie, Langer faced a gruelling flight across eight time zones to compete in the US Senior Open at Sahalee near Seattle on America’s West Coast.
It was a taxing schedule which would have daunted many golfers. But was Langer fazed? Not a bit of it.
With four rounds in the sixties, Langer cruised to his first Senior Major in the United States and his 12th title in all since turning 50 in 2007. As pension funds go, the US Champions Tour has not been a bad hunting ground for the two-time Masters Champion.
Just study the statistics. Since 2007, he has played in 58 events, winning 12 times, second twice and third four times. He has 39 top ten finishes to his name and 52 top 25s. On only six occasions has this German powerhouse failed to finish in the top 25. Superman clearly has nothing on Langer!
His recent performances help to cast the mind back to Kiawah Island at The Ryder Cup in 1991. Langer’s anguished, contorted features after missing the final putt of the match against Hale Irwin – and with it The Ryder Cup – might scar him for a long time to come.
What did he do? Langer simply returned to Europe, re-grouped and won the German Open in his homeland. That one action was to define Bernhard Langer as a golfer of supreme courage.
Since reaching the age of 50, Langer has now accumulated $6,284236 on the US Champions Tour. He was the Number One and Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and, on the evidence of 2010 so far, must be in line to complete the hat-trick.
Adversity has always appeared to bring out the best in Langer. Few golfers could have conquered the putting ‘yips’ so successfully. He remains the only German to have won a major Championship on either side of the 50 age barrier and he is now the first Continental European to land the US Senior Open. In fact, he is only the sixth non-American to win the title.
Langer believes he played “probably some of my best golf” over the past two weeks, on two incredibly challenging courses and straddling eight times changes.
One of the rewards is an exemption to the 2011 US Open Championship….could Langer re-write history at Congressional? Only a brave man would ever bet against him!