Bernhard Langer has been coming to St Andrews since the 1978 Open, he came within two shots of Seve in probably the most famous Championship over the Old Course six years later. But he and his senior colleagues have bizarrely never visited this corner of Fife. All that will change this week and the German, who finished 24th in The Open at Carnoustie,  will be defending and going for an unprecedented fourth Senior Open title. 

Is it long overdue that the Senior Open is finally being played at St Andrews?

Definitely. It’s a wonderful thing. I think only fitting that some of the all-time greats have a chance to play for the Senior Open Championship at the Home of Golf.

You played all four rounds in the 2015 Open there after winning the Senior Open at Porthcawl the year before?

I did, yeah. Probably not my all time best scoring but I played decent golf. They were tough competitions. There was tough weather at times with rain and wind and also sorts of stuff, but that’s links golf. You just never know what to expect or what’s coming the next hour or the next day.

Players speak of not understanding the hype around the Old Course on their first visit, did you feel the same?

Yes, it was the same with me. When I first played it, I actually didn’t like it at all. But you know, I was only 18 and I had never really seen a lot of links golf before.

I didn’t like the idea of standing on some of the tees and looking over a sand dune and not really knowing what’s out there, and I thought I hit a good tee shot and it ended up in one of the pot bunkers and I didn’t really appreciate the way the greens were designed.

The more I played it, the more I loved it, because I can see what the architect had in mind and how great the course plays, and it doesn’t matter if the wind is right to left or left to right, or into us or downwind, it’s still a challenge. It’s the design that made it that way.

It came to be that I fell in love with the course, which is very unusual, because most courses I like right away, but I didn’t like St Andrews the first time I played it, but now I love it.

Interview continues on the next page, where Langer explains his epic battle with Seve Ballesteros in 1984…