To be one of the best athletes in the world cannot be honored – and then there is Bernhard Langer. Age-matched, probably the best athlete in the world.
Three weeks ago, Langer became the oldest winner in PGA Tour Champions history when he won the Dominion Energy Charity Classic. How old? On that Sunday he was 64 years, 1 month and 27 days old. Incidentally, it was his 42nd victory on this tour. His ninth win since crossing the 60-year mark.
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Last Sunday, the native German, who lives in Boca Raton, won his sixth Charles Schwab Cup.
Langer is now in the rare air of … just himself.
Remember, this tour has been around for over 40 years and no one has ever accomplished the feats that Langer does.
Wasn’t that the “Senior Tour” earlier?
“But,” some might be tempted to say. “He wins on the PGA Champions Tour. Didn’t they call it the “Senior Tour” until recently – like the guys over 50 years old.
OK. Let’s get to the PGA tour. Even better. Let’s get back to the Masters tournament 2020 in Augusta National. As with a major, Langer won twice while playing regularly on this tour.
In this major full of 20-year-old phenomena, the then 63-year-old became the oldest player in golf history to make the Augusta National cut. Something he did when he was 62 and 61, too. Overall, he hit many players who were three or four decades younger than him and hit at least 50 yards longer than him.
Those 20 year old phenomena missed the cut and went home while the 63 year old lived to beat another day.
Physically and in terms of fitness, if you judge him, Langer looks better than many players not only on the PGA Tour, but also in other sports around the world.
Of course he’s not Superman. Langer flew to Germany on Monday, where he will have knee surgery and won’t hit balls for six to eight weeks. After rehab, his goal is to play in Hawaii by the beginning of the 2022 season, which will be his 15th with PGA Tour Champions.
Tom Brady can only hope to emulate Langer
Younger athletes constantly have to have knee operations. In other words, 44-year-old Tom Brady is hoping he can be in the form Langer is in now when he is 64 and appears to be playing for his 15th Super Bowl ring.
Phil Mickelson, 51, played in the tournament Langer won last month and was crushed by the 64-year-old. Phil said a few days before Langer defeated him with 14 shots: “Of course Bernhard Langer is the gold standard, isn’t it? This 64 year old man what he’s done is amazing. This is the guy that you can look up to to extend your career and have a great quality of life. “
Of course, to Phil’s credit, he was just winning the Charles Schwab Cup championship at the end of the season when Langer won the points title.
For Mickelson, Langer has proven to be the “gold standard” that any athlete can emulate in any sport if he is hoping for a long and successful career. One of his teammates on the tour just called him an “anomaly”. It is and should be recognized as such.
There is no one like him. Langer sits alone on the pyramid for an athlete his age anywhere in the world. Period.
He has won over 100 times worldwide and just like Brady, Langer is very competitive, loves his sport and sees no reason to stop. He knows that by his mid-60s he can still dominate and win, and the guys 15 years younger than him know it too.
The “anomaly” has more to prove and deserves much more recognition and praise from a sports world that is often fixated on youth over experience.
The GOAT is longer for its age.
Douglas MacKinnon is a retired White House and Pentagon official and author.