He's won 32 titles this decade, including 11 majors – and showing no signs of slowing down. That's why he's our Player of the Decade
The first time I met him Bernhard Langer face to face was back in the mid-1980s at Fulford and he made an immediate impression on me when he suggested we re-do a 30-minute interview after learning that my tape recording had been rendered indecipherable by background noise.
There are not too many top sportsmen or sportswomen who would do that for a rookie journalist but he did it with good grace and it was the same a few years later at Sunningdale when he agreed to my request for another interview despite having just missed the cut by miles.
The German was in the middle of one of his battles against the putting yips at the time but during the 15-20 minutes that we chatted in the car park he left me in no doubt that he would find a cure.
Langer’s determination to overcome that affliction was absolute and that extraordinary willpower is one of the reasons why, almost 30 years later, I have no hesitation in naming him as my golfer of the past 10 years.
Langer no longer plays on the main tour but his domination of the Champions Tour is such that there is no more deserving recipient and the fact that he remains one of the game’s great gentlemen makes it all the more pleasing to behold.
The German started the decade with wins in the 2010 Senior Open Championship and US Senior Open and he concluded it by claiming an 11th senior major title at the 2019 Senior Open Championship.
The German’s latest victory at Lytham took his total of Champions Tour wins to 40 and within just five of the record currently held by Hale Irwin. He did not win this year’s Champions Tour money title but he did achieve that feat in 10 of the previous 11 years and the $1,831,622 he accumulated in 2019 was enough to supplant Irwin at the top of the career money list with $28,653,126 and counting.
All that is hugely impressive but what makes it even more remarkable is that Langer has done much of it at an age when virtually all other top players are in decline.
The statistics show that around 85 per cent of all Champions Tour winners are in the 50-55 age bracket but Langer has claimed 22 of his 40 victories since turning 57 in 2014 and a further seven since reaching 60 in 2017. To put that into perspective there have only been 23 sexagenarian winners since the Champions Tour was founded back in 1980 with Irwin next in line having mustered three victories and Tom Watson, Jay Haas and Jimmy Powell two apiece.
It remains to be seen what the German can accomplish now he is 62 but one would hazard a guess that it is only a matter of time before he overhauls 63-year-old Mike Fetchick as the oldest winner in Champions Tour history while Irwin’s record of 45 Champions Tour wins must be also under serious threat.
Langer turns 63 at the end of August and, 46 years after turning pro, what is probably the most impressive thing about him is that to date he has shown absolutely no sign of losing either his desire to compete or his almost superhuman will to win.
I recently tuned in to watch as he teamed up with his son Jason to win the Father Son Challenge for a second time (he has also won it twice with elder son Stefan) and there he was grinding it out just as hard as he did while claiming his two Masters titles in 1985 and 1993.
It was great to watch and is the latest warning to his fellow senior pros that this consummate professional is nowhere near finished yet.
- NCG’s Player of the Decade: 2nd place
- NCG’s Player of the Decade: 3rd place
- NCG’s Player of the Decade: 4th place
- NCG’s Player of the Decade: 5th place
Do you agree with our choice of Bernhard Langer as our Player of the Decade? Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.