For Bernhard Langer, age is just a number. So too, is 46.
One month shy of his 66th birthday, the German won the US Senior Open on Sunday to clinch an unprecedented 46th victory on the PGA Tour Champions.
Langer carded seven-under overall at a punishing SentryWorld course in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, to finish two strokes ahead of local hero Steve Stricker and overtake American Hale Irwin as the winningest golfer on the senior tour, eligible for players over the age of 50.
Irwin’s record had stood for 16 years but was sent tumbling alongside a host of others in the German’s wake Sunday. A 12-time senior major champion at 65-years-old, Langer put more distance between himself and Irwin (7) in career senior major titles, while simultaneously breaking his own record as the oldest winner on the PGA Tour Champions for the fifth time.
And he’s not done yet.
“I have my mother that’s going to be 100 on August 4th, so I think I have good genes,” Langer told reporters.
“Hopefully, I’ll be around a few more years.”
Dominance on the PGA Tour Champions has continued an illustrious career for the former world No. 1 and a two-time Masters champion in 1985 and 1993.
He won three times on the PGA Tour, but it was his dominance on the European Tour (now the DP World Tour) that foreshadowed his supremacy on the senior circuit. With 42 wins over a 23-year stretch, Langer trails only Seve Ballesteros for all-time European Tour wins, with the legendary Spaniard eight triumphs ahead.
Langer celebrated his first win on the PGA Tour Champions in 2007, with his first two senior majors – the Senior Open Championship and the US Senior Open – following in quick succession three years later.
Now, he stands alone at the top. Yet despite his unmatched feats, Langer insists, he is still very much human.
With “two bad knees,” Langer endures pain when bending down, a considerable discomfort in a sport where crouching to read putts is an action repeated constantly.
“I read [that] if you go downhill from a tee box … it’s 20 times your body weight,” Langer said.
“So for easy math, if you’re 200 pounds, that’s 4,000 pounds on the knee joint when you walk downhill. Imagine how many times I’ve walked downhill in the last 50 years on Tour.
“The body’s taken a beating, no doubt about it. I feel it just like everybody else.”
A final round one-under 70 was enough to hold off Stricker, who shot 69 to fall narrowly short of a 16th PGA Tour Champions win and a seventh senior major title.
Langer denied Wisconsin-born Stricker a famous hometown victory, but the 56-year-old had nothing but praise for his rival.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?”, Stricker told reporters.
“It gives all of us hope that are out here still playing that we can continue to play as good as he’s played for such a long time. It’s really impressive.”