PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Bernhard Langer confident in still contending after treatment on left knee
December 29, 2021
By Bob McClellan , PGATOUR.COM
- December 29, 2021
- Langer said he plans to play a full schedule in 2022, including the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
When last the golf community gazed upon the intrepid German Bernhard Langer he was limping his way to an unprecedented sixth Charles Schwab Cup despite a balky left knee that almost led him to withdraw after the first round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
But then he remembered he hadn’t won five cups and 42 PGA TOUR Champions events (second all time) by posting WDs.
He figured he’d have some kind of offseason knee surgery, even said as much in the wake of holding off rookie Jim Furyk for the coveted Schwab Cup with a 17th-place finish in the finale, but it turns out it wasn’t necessary.
“Nope, no surgery, nothing like that,” Langer said recently. “I just had a couple of injections to create some scar tissue and I’ve been doing exercises to strengthen my left knee, the one that has been bothering me for five years. I’ve been doing exercises that I haven’t been able to do. I’ve just started hitting balls and the knee feels fine.”
Langer said he plans to play a full schedule in 2022, including the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai Jan. 16-18. But he said he won’t put himself through the kind of grind the 2020-21 wraparound season turned out to be. He played in all 39 events in the superseason that was extended because of the COVID-19 outbreak that canceled several events in 2020.
Perhaps that contributed to exacerbating the pain in his knee. But it also is a reason he won the cup.
“I never played a totally full schedule except for last year,” Langer said. “I usually play 20-22 events on PGA TOUR Champions out of the 26-27 that we normally have. I play the Masters and the PNC Championship and maybe a tournament Germany.
“I’ll play a full schedule this year, just not every tournament. I’ll play somewhere between 18 and 25 events.”
A healthy, rested Langer will be as dangerous as always. Even at the age of 64. No one on Champions Tour puts anything past him. He is the standard for golf over the age of 50.
One thing he does perhaps better than anyone in golf is identify small areas in which he genuinely can improve and go hard to improve them. He figures if he can shave a half-stroke a round off any area of improvement, that’s 1.5 shots per tournament, and that can make a huge difference.
“One of my main goals is always to improve, and it’s hard to improve when you’re at this level,” Langer said. “But I still feel like I can. If I can do that by just a small percentage I should have a good chance to be among the top players again.”
In addition to staying off the knee and visiting his home in Germany, Langer has reflected upon winning yet another cup at his advanced age.
“That one was really special for several reasons,” Langer said. “One, my age. Second, because of all the really good players who came out the past couple of years. And third because it went over a two-year period, not just one year. It has been an amazing run. I’ve far exceeded what I hoped for when I started on the Champions Tour.”
Whether another Schwab Cup run is reasonable, Langer says Hale Irwin’s record for wins at least is in the back of his mind. He’s only three back.
“It doesn’t define me as a player or person or my career,” Langer said. “I’ve set more records than I ever thought I would on this tour. It’s something that might happen (the all-time wins record), but it may not. It’s getting harder to win out here as I’m getting older and there’s more guys coming up.”