By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – Remember Bernhard Langer?
OK, that’s a little overdramatic considering he’s the defending Schwab Cup champion. But this season hasn’t been anything like his usual on the Champions Tour, due to a run of injuries.
Langer’s hoping to end it on an upswing, however, sitting at 3 under in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship after a round of 68 Friday. He’s one shot behind co-leaders Michael Allen, Fred Couples and David Frost.
A win in the season finale would actually be his second of the year, but his February win at the ACE Group Classic may as well be many years ago.
“Sure seems that way,” Langer said. “Last three years, I was winning a regular basis, every four, five, six events. It’s been a tough year health-wise.”
Not long after that win he had surgery on his left thumb, injured in a freak bicycle accident. He missed four months, more than what he was led to believe.
“The surgeon made it sound pretty simple: ‘We can take care of that, you’ll be back on Tour in eight weeks,’” Langer said. “It was healed after eight weeks, but then I developed arthritis in those two joints. It’s been an uphill battle ever since.”
He also had fluid drained from his left knee after the British Open and has battled left ankle problems.
Langer had two top-10s in Champions Tour majors over the summer, but hasn’t had a top-5 since the February win. He came to TPC Harding Park 22nd in points, far from being able to defend his Schwab Cup.
But his game is returning, evidenced by Friday’s 68. He missed just two fairways and took 25 putts for the round, the best in the 30-man field
“I feel like I’m now not scared,” Langer said. “I know (the thumb’s) going to hurt on certain shots, but I’m going after the ball. I just take the pain, it goes away after 10 seconds. Not like a toothache that’s constant.”