PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Langer not slowing down at age 60
German star has notched five wins in 2017, including three senior major victories
September 27, 2017
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- Bernhard Langer once again leads the Schwab Cup money list and is as dominant as ever. (Kent Horner/Getty Images)
Bernhard Langer was 56 years old when the 2014 season began on PGA TOUR Champions.
He had led the Tour in earnings in five of the past six seasons, but perhaps there were signs he was slowing down. Langer had won only twice in 2012 and twice more in 2013 – four wins in 44 starts. Any player would gladly take a win in every 11 starts, but it wasn’t a dominant run.
Kenny Perry won more tournaments in 2013 than Langer did, 3-2. And a handful of other players tied the German star with two wins. He still was a player to be respected, no question. But feared? No, not with so many players poised to challenge him for PGA TOUR Champions supremacy.
What has transpired since is nothing short of remarkable. Langer notched his fifth win of the 2017 season on Sunday at Pebble Beach in the PURE Insurance Championship. It was his 16th PGA TOUR Champions victory since the start of the 2014 season in just 79 starts.
Yes, Langer has won at a rate of once in every five times he tees it up over the past three-plus seasons. This one also held special significance for him: It was his first at one of golf’s most venerable venues, and it was his first since turning 60 on Aug. 27.
“It was a magical week in terms of golf as nice as this place is and the weather was and the people I played with, and my game was really good,” Langer said. “It's my first win being 60, so that's special, has a special meaning, and my first victory around Pebble Beach. It's pretty cool.”
Cool always is a good word to describe Langer. He’s unflappable on the course, always grinding, always plotting, capitalizing on seemingly every key opportunity. Rookie Jerry Kelly, one of the hottest players on PGA TOUR Champions with two wins in his past four starts, tied Langer with a birdie on No. 12. The Charles Schwab Cup leader responded with three consecutive birdies, capped with a lob wedge to a foot on No. 15. Langer finished at 17 under; Kelly was second at 14 under.
“I was happy with the way I played,” Kelly said. “I thought eight (under par in the final round) and that's exactly what I needed was eight. I was hoping that wasn't the case, but when you've got Iron Man out there doing that stuff, you know. I pulled even with him at one point, and then as my caddie said, that must have just pissed him off and he rattled off three straight.”
Kelly isn’t the first player to lose a duel down the stretch against “Iron Man,” just the latest.
“That man is truly inspiring,” Kelly said. “I mean, I told him the other day I've got so much respect for what he's doing. Forget what he's done, he's doing it.”
Not to mix superhero metaphors, but there appears to be no Kryptonite for Langer. He has only gotten better with age; he leads PGA TOUR Champions in greens in regulation and putting, which surely is a recipe for winning. He had 30 one-putts in 54 holes at the PURE Insurance Championship to lead the field, and he also had the fewest total putts (80).
Langer was at the top of his superpowers in California. He shattered a pair of tournament records: the 13-year-old scoring record by three shots and the record for most birdies by five with 23. He said he didn’t make any long birdie putts on Sunday because he hit the ball so close. No one saw Langer leap The Lodge at Pebble Beach in a single bound, but no one would be surprised, either.
Langer will take the lead into the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs regardless of the results at the SAS Championship, the final event before the Playoffs begins, that starts on Oct. 13. He has claimed the past three Schwab Cups and four of the past seven. He will face strong challenges from Kelly, Scott McCarron, Kevin Sutherland and others.
Langer isn’t invincible, but he’s not going to give up without a fight.
Bernhard Langer clinches 5th win of the year at PURE Insurance