PHOENIX — Where to even begin with Bernhard Langer.
His age? He turned 65 in August and became the oldest player to win on the PGA Tour Champions at the TimberTech Championship last week.
Shooting his age? Langer has shot or beaten his age six times now. Last week, he shot a 63 in the second round to beat his age by two shots. In 2021, Langer shot a 64 on his 64th birthday and afterward said he was serenaded three separate times by fans singing “Happy Birthday” on that Friday in Michigan.
Champions tour titles? Langer is back at Phoenix Country Club a year removed from claiming his record-setting sixth series championship. That’s four more than Hale Irwin, Tom Watson, Jay Haas, Lauren Roberts and Tom Lehman, all tied for second on the list. He is fifth in the points this time around but has been mathematically eliminated from winning a seventh title.
Career Champions victories? When Langer won last Sunday, he did so in runaway fashion, posting a six-shot rout to get within one of Irwin’s all-time Champions mark of 45.
“It’s amazing. Like last week, I mean, beat his age again,” said Steven Alker, who leads the series points race. “He just keeps going like an energizer, it’s just amazing. And there’s lots to learn from that, too. Just the perseverance, he just keeps going. It was impressive, it really was.”
It was 15 years ago that Langer won his first Champions event, which came about ten months after Irwin won his last.
Does it feel like 15 years already on this tour? “In a way it does and in another way it feels like time flew by, so it’s weird,” Langer said.
He’s won every year on tour and there were only two seasons where Langer only won once. In 2017, he won seven times.
Talk about consistency.
“That is Bernhard Langer to a T,” said Jerry Kelly. “He’s just always going to be there. He’s battled some injuries the last couple years, you know, and he still won the Cup last year. Yeah, it’s beyond words for me.”
Langer won just three times during his PGA Tour career, but two of his wins came with a green jacket, as he won the Masters in 1985 and 1993. Only eight golfers have won the Masters more than he has. In 2020, when they held the Masters in November, Langer became the oldest player to make the cut at Augusta at the age of 63 years, 2 months, 18 days old.
Then there’s the money. Langer has won $65 million in on-course earnings, with $33 million coming on the senior circuit. First place is worth $440,000 at the Schwab Cup finale, an amount that would push him over the $34 million mark.
Set aside the trophies, the money, the accolades. Why is he still playing golf week in and week out?
“It’s the love of the game and competing at the highest level with the best players my age,” he said. It never gets old teeing it up? “Very seldom. No, it doesn’t.”
Langer and Kelly are in the second-to-last group Thursday. They tee off at 2:50 p.m. ET. The final group is Alker and Padraig Harrington, who are Nos. 1-2 in the points. They tee off at 3 p.m. ET.
For Harrington to win the championship, he needs to win the tournament and he needs Alker to finish outside the top five.