He’s just turned 57 and there’s nothing better that Bernhard Langer would like as a birthday present than to be picked for the European Ryder Cup team.
Langer, who turned 57 on Wednesday, has won five of 17 Champions Tour starts this year, and finished in the Top 10 at the Masters, which he has won twice.
He comes into Calgary for the Shaw Charity Classic with 23 wins on the Champions Tour, the circuit for the over 50 set. With 42 wins on the European Tour, and three additional PGA Tour victories, Langer is one of the game’s greats.
And given his strong play there’s been a push to make him a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup. It is something Langer would welcome.
“It’s a great honor to represent your country and your tour any time in your career and it would be a thrill for me to be part of that,” says Langer.
European team captain Paul McGinley has all but squashed the notion that Langer could get picked for the team, but others in the Shaw Charity Classic field, including Fred Couples and Rocco Mediate, gave Langer their support.
Mediate, the winner of last year’s Shaw tournament, said he’d draft Langer for the European team without question.
“He would be my first pick—period,” said Mediate. “There wouldn’t even be a thought about it. I wouldn’t think about it twice. What Bernhard does is remarkable. He’s always been that kind of guy though. He’s got it all firing and it’s fun to watch.”
There’s a notion that a golfer’s skills deteriorate after the age of 40, but that’s been increasingly dispelled in recent years with the success of Langer, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, Kenny Perry and others who have played well on both the Champions Tour and PGA Tour well into their fifties. And at the age of 59, Tom Watson came within one shot of winning the British Open at Turnberry in 2009.
Langer railed against the notion that age defines a golfer. Fit and slim, the German has made more than $2-million every year except once since joining the Champions Tour in 2007 when he turned 50. The golf ball, it would seem, doesn’t know the age of the player hitting it when it comes to Langer.
“Just because we are 51 or 52 or whatever age we might be, why does that make us worse than when we were 44 or 42?” he questioned. “It really doesn’t. It makes no sense. As I said, we have more experience, we have a better understanding of what we can do and how the game works and why certain things are happening because I’ve had more time grooving my swing.”
That doesn’t mean he’s found the eternal fountain of youth. Langer admits that there will come a time when he slows down and isn’t as competitive, but that time isn’t coming any time soon.
“I’ve been aching and hurting for many years,” he said. “It seems more and more, but I’m trying to ignore it and make the best of it.”
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