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Bjørn praises 'trailblazer' Langer for inspiring golf's global growth

Bjørn praises 'trailblazer' Langer for inspiring golf's global growth

By Mathieu Wood

Thomas Bjørn says Bernhard Langer “moved mountains for golfers around the world” in reaching untapped demographics as he paid a glowing tribute to the European great.

Langer is making his farewell appearance on the DP World Tour this week at the BMW International Open in Germany, 50 years on from his debut in 1974.

Bjørn, another stalwart of European golf, is also teeing it up in Munich and the Dane is in no doubt that the global expansion of the sport over recent decades is in part a result of how two-time Masters champion Langer inspired new participation. 

“My view on Bernhard is that as a northern European, when you look at the game of golf and historically where the game of golf has been, Great Britain & Ireland and Spain were the leading parts of European golf.

"Here was this guy who wasn’t from there and represented a different (geographical) demographic in golf and he gave a lot of hope to a lot of players from other countries, and he was a trailblazer for being the best in the world from not where you would expect golfers to come from at that time.

"Bernhard moved mountains for golfers around the world."

You will never meet a truer gentleman in the game than Bernhard Langer

Langer has won 42 DP World Tour titles across his career, second only to Severiano Ballesteros, and was one of the big five of European golf during the 1980s.

He won the Green Jacket twice, in 1985 and 1993, went on to become World Number One in 1986, and was a six-time Ryder Cup winner.

Bjørn, a 15-time winner on the DP World Tour, made his Ryder Cup debut in 1997 in a team that also featured Langer, while the pair have both captained Europe to victory. Bjørn also served as a Ryder Cup Vice Captain to Langer in 2004.

At the age of 66 Langer continues to compete at a high level, holding the record for most victories on PGA TOUR Champions with 46, including a record 12 Senior Major wins.

"When you look at him as a player and what he has achieved, he maybe sometimes doesn’t get the credit for how good he was around the world," reflected Bjørn.

"In European golf, it is very easy to pick out Seve Ballesteros, (Sir Nick) Faldo. At times Bernhard went a little under the radar.

"When you start breaking down his records and what he has done, it is quite remarkable."

Bjørn, who has won two titles on the Legends Tour since turning 50 in 2021, has made four DP World Tour starts this season, most recently in Bahrain in February but he was never going to miss the chance to play in Langer’s swansong on European soil.

“You will never meet a truer gentleman in the game than Bernhard Langer,” he added.

“He is an honour to be around and a pleasure to be around. I wanted to be here for his final appearance.

“I played a lot of tournament golf with him, but I also played a lot of practice golf with him, and he always made me feel welcome into his world.

“For me, it is the man behind all the greatness that impresses me the most. We should celebrate him this week because there are very few people who have achieved what he has.”

'The atmosphere was incredible, it was an amazing day'

Langer, who said earlier in the week he anticipates the chance to bid goodbye in front of home crowds will be "very emotional", is playing alongside countrymen Martin Kaymer and Marcel Siem in the opening two rounds.

Among the early wave of starters in Thursday’s first round, Langer parred his first ten holes from the tenth before he bounced back from a bogey at the par-three second with back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth to finish with a one-under-par 71.

“The atmosphere was unbelievable," he said in a post-round interview. "I teed off at 7:40 so I got to tee off at 7:30 in the morning and it seemed like there were thousands of people and the atmosphere was incredible the whole way around.

"That was just amazing, and we truly enjoyed it. It was great to play with Marcel and with Martin and you know, I said this could be the last time we ever play golf together and that's reality.

"So, it was an amazing day. It's just wonderful for the people, the way they turned out and how they cheered us on all day long."

Siem won his sixth DP World Tour title last week in Italy as he registered the 71st win by a player from Germany, and Langer is thrilled by the breadth of talent among players from his homeland across the globe.

"We've become very close friends over the years and we cheer each other on across the oceans and wherever we are around the world," he said.

"Marcel won last week in Italy. And I texted him immediately from Florida. Just stuff like that, it's great to see you and.

"I'm very proud that we have so many young German players now on all the many tours around the world and they're successful too.

"It took a long time, but it's finally taking root and it's fun to see."

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