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PHOENIX — Bernhard Langer turned 64 in late August and celebrated the occasion by shooting his age on his birthday at the Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc, Michigan.
Fast forward 10 weeks and Langer did himself one better, eagling the first and last holes at Phoenix Country Club to shoot a 63 in the third round at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Langer is doing this despite a balky back, which he says started acting up during Wednesday’s pro-am.
On Thursday, he admitted he had thoughts of withdrawing, but after talking with his doctor, who said he can’t make things worse, decided to stick it out in his quest for a record sixth Schwab Cup title.
It’s not the first time he’s battled through an injury.
“I’ve played in some severe pain when I was younger and that was probably a mistake looking back, but at the time, you know, you fly all the way to Australia and you don’t want to withdraw because you have back pain or something,” he said after Saturday’s round. “I played a number of rounds of golf with a lot of pain, and I can stand pain fairly well, but I’m not sure it’s the smartest thing to do.
“But on this occasion my doctor assured me I couldn’t do any more damage to it, so that reassured my mind to fight through it, especially Thursday was pretty tough.”
Langer was bogey-free on Saturday, with birdies on Nos. 3, 7, 10 and 17 to go along with his two eagles. He’s gone 68-72-63 so far this week and walked off the course tied for 10th, with 18 holes to go.
“I haven’t looked forward to an offseason like this for a long time just because of a few things,” he said. “I’ve been aching and hurting and I played a lot. I played probably more this year than I have in a number of years because my goal was to win the Schwab Cup and the more you play, the more chances you have. So I gave myself the opportunity and now we’ll see what happens.”
Langer’s victory in August ended a winless streak that went back to March 2020. He’s seeking his 43rd overall title since the Champions tour. Only Hale Irwin at 45 has more wins on the senior circuit.
Langer became the oldest winner on the Champions Tour three weeks ago when he won the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Virginia. He has nine wins in all since he turned 60, which leads the tour.
Langer is already the tour’s leading money winner.