Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples flew the flag for the over 50s in the Masters Tournament earlier this year and now both are targeting more Major glory of their own in this week’s US Senior Open.
The pair finished tied 25th and 13th respectively after flirting with the lead at Augusta National in April and, after backing up those results with a string of impressive performances on the US Champions Tour, they will start among the favourites for the title at Omaha Country Club.
Langer, who won the US Senior Open in 2010 a week after capturing The Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie, led going into the final round at Indianwood Golf & Country Club last year, but a closing 72 meant he finished joint runner up behind Englishman Roger Chapman, who claimed a Senior Major double.
He also led going into the back nine of The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Turnberry, but missed out again with Couples this time the beneficiary.
However, Langer is confident he can bounce back from those disappointments and contend once again this week.
“I haven't thought about it (losing the US Senior Open) lately but obviously, on that day and the next couple of days, I contemplated what I did wrong and where I could have done better,” said Langer. “But you just learn from that stuff and forget about it and move on. That's life.
“When you compete, you're going to win some, and you're going to lose some. It's like I heard an interview with Ray Floyd the other day, and he said one of his strengths was he wasn't scared of losing. He didn't fear losing, and that enabled him to win.
“What he meant by that is he's not scared of going for things, and sometimes you pull them off, and sometimes you get burnt. That's just the game of golf. A couple inches here and a couple inches there can make you or break you.”
Having won the Masters Tournament twice and two Senior Majors, Langer now feels ready to add to his haul of golf’s most glittering prizes.
“It gives you confidence just knowing that you've won Majors and that I've competed when I was in my 20s, my 30s, my 40s, and now I'm in my 50s, and I'm still competing,” he said. “It just gives me that confidence and that knowledge that, if my game is in good shape and I play to the level I can play, that I have a chance winning any tournament where I tee it up as long as I play to my best capability.”
Former World Number One Langer will join Tom Watson and Senior Tour rookie Colin Montgomerie for the first two rounds in a mouth-watering group featuring three victorious Ryder Cup Captains.
“I think it's always great to play with Hall of Famers,” said Langer. “They've both had tremendous careers, and are both very much respected by their peers. “
Couples has finished runner up in his last three events on the US Champions Tour and after missing out to Langer in the US Senior Open in 2010 in his home city of Seattle, the 1992 Masters Champion is hoping to finally land the trophy this week.
“When I turned 50, I had a great first year,” he said. “I waited the whole time to play the US Senior Open in my hometown of Seattle and lost to Bernhard Langer.
“And then really since then, I think what keeps you going is a little bit of health and I hit the ball a long way. I still enjoy playing. I don't play that much. This is a nice little stretch where I'm playing, but when I get to play in an event or two and then go to the next one or two, I seem that I can pick my game up pretty quickly. I feel like I'm competitive out here every week I play.”
As Senior Open Champion, Couples will also play in The Open Championship next week before going on to defend his title at Royal Birkdale in a fortnight’s time.
Despite a persistent back problem and a lack of knowledge of the hilly Omaha CC course, Couples is looking forward to the challenge ahead of him this week.
“This is a very, very tough golf course,” he said. “So you have to be ready to play, and I feel very healthy right now and ready to go.”