Bernhard Langer says Southern Hills will require him to be 'near flawless' to contend
Bernhard Langer is getting older – and he’ll be the first to admit it – but what keeps him going is his love for the game of golf.
And he’s hoping that passion will carry him to the winner’s circle this week at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, a championship he won in 2017.
“I just love playing competitive golf. And I’m fairly good at it, so it’s fun,” said Langer on Wednesday from Southern Hills Country Club, with a smile. “When there’s a time when I don’t enjoy it anymore then it’s time to slow down or quit, but that hasn’t come yet.”
Figure this: Langer said he weighs now only five pounds more than when he won the Masters almost 30 years ago. He smoked once, when he was 12, and never again because it tasted so bad. He drinks only rarely these days – a glass of wine or a beer, he says. He moves and he exercises, and that’s what keeps him in such good shape, even though he’s now 63.
He said his success – Langer has won 41 times on PGA Tour Champions, including 11 majors – has a combination of good genes (his mother is 97) and a life dedicated to exercise.
“I have loved sports all my life and have always done sports, always live an active lifestyle. I’m not a couch potato and I think it helps,” he said. “We’re meant to move.”
Langer has been moving up leaderboards on a consistent and impressive clip this season. He has 15 top-10 finishes in 21 events and has finished outside the top-25 only twice all season long.
He admitted on Wednesday, though, that he has a cold and isn’t feeling 100 percent. That, however, isn’t set to stop him from still competing at the highest level. He’s focused on stretching and conserving his energy, he says, and still feels “very competitive.”
Langer, of course, saw Phil Mickelson win the PGA Championship last week at age 50 and corrected a misperception about athletes as they get older.
“In certain sports you can still get better at that age, but in other sports you will not succeed. It just depends, you know you’re not going to as a soccer player get better at age 50. Not a tennis player either, because they have to do a lot of running and sprinting,” said Langer. “But there are certain sports where they’re more technical than physical, they’re more mental than physical, and golf is certainly one of those.”
Langer said he’s known for more than a decade that a senior player would win a major championship eventually. He was convinced, he said, it was only a matter of time before it happened.
“There are guys that are still long, and there will be other guys coming out that have the game and on certain courses they can win,” said Langer. “So I’m thrilled for Phil. He had to play some serious good golf to pull that off and I’m very happy for him and I think it’s great for the game of golf in general and I think it also proves that the over 50-year-olds can still play.”
Langer is, obviously, one of those who can still play – even well past that age-50 mark.
He admitted this week he’ll have to play near flawless golf to take this KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship across the finish line, but just as he’s done his whole career, an in-contention Bernard Langer is a dangerous competitor.
“I’ve been in contention a number of times this year, had chances, but made too many mistakes and I’ve got to avoid mistakes,” said Langer. “But it’s great to feel the energy from the crowd, have the fans back and we really look forward to it. It’s going to be great and very exciting.”