Bernhard Langer, in one variation or another, has been asked for his secret. How, at 63, is he still doing it? How is he tied for fourth heading into Sunday’s final round of the Senior Open, a tournament he’s won four times. How has he won 41 times on the Champions Tour? How, among players multiple decades younger than him, did he tie for 29th last November at the Masters, a tournament he’s won twice?
And nearly every time, he’s answered insightfully.
His answer after his final round at last year’s Masters, in which he was paired with 27-year-old bomber Bryson DeChambeau — and beat him by two strokes: “I know how to play this golf course and just have to play my angles and rely on my short game. With me, it’s really all the putter. If I can make a few putts, I know I can shoot somewhere around par or even under, and that’s usually good enough to hang in there.”
His answer after making the cut at last year’s Masters, becoming the oldest player ever to do so: “A lot of people have shin splint problems, and their feet are hurting, their knees, even their hips and their backs sometimes going out. I need to pay attention to that. After my round, my wife said to me, ‘You’re not going to hit balls, are you?’ I said, no, no chance. I’m done.”
Another answer after making the cut: “Gary [Player] was my golfing idol. You look at this guy, and what’s he, 85 now? It’s just amazing the shape he’s still in. He’s worked on his fitness and flexibility all his life, and I think it pays off even more as you get older than when you’re younger.”
Deep stuff. Nearly every time.
Then came Thursday. After his first round at the Senior Open, Langer was asked the question again: “Speaking of working and the test of time, you’re arguably the most competitive player at your age through history. No one has been more competitive than you. What is your secret to staying competitive against guys that are 12, 13 years younger than you?”
“Eating lots of sauerkraut and sausages,” the native of Germany said.
Say it is so, Bernhard! We all can do that. But it appears when you answer deeply time after time, you can also respond lightly every once in a while.
Then he continued.
“No, obviously I have pretty good genes, I would think. My mother is going to be 98 in a couple of weeks. But I do work on it: I enjoy working out, I love playing golf, I love to walk. Not sitting in a cart and all of that helps.
“Obviously to be successful, you need more than fitness. You need good technique and have to be mentally tough and strong, and a good caddie and coach and hopefully a good private life and all that stuff. It’s a puzzle and the pieces need to fit most of the time if you want to have longevity and success in this game.”
Just four shots back of the lead entering Sunday, Langer could very likely be asked the question again. Or, as he’s showing no sign of slowing down, at another tournament very soon.
Here’s hoping he says the fountain of youth is just a good German beer.