BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Fresh off a landmark victory, Bernhard Langer tries to enter a league of his own at the Senior PGA Championship.
Langer is coming off the 100th victory of his career – at a major, no less – when he won the Regions Tradition in Alabama. It was his sixth major championship as a senior, and he joined Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win four different majors on the PGA Tour Champions
Nicklaus was the first to win the Senior Grand Slam – it took him all of two years to win all four after he turned 50 in 1990 – but he had largely retired when the Senior British Open was added to the major rotation. Nicklaus only played that once in its first year as a major in 2003.
Langer is going for an unprecedented sweep of all five when the Senior PGA begins Thursday at Harbor Shores.
“It’s huge in a sense that nobody’s ever done it before,” Langer said. “We have had many, many great players and illustrious careers and they haven’t … nobody’s ever done it. So it’s a challenge. And I like challenges. I like to set goals, and I wasn’t even aware of that until last week. So this is a new goal of mine, and it’s fun. It’s fun to look forward to doing something that is unusual.”
Langer contended the last two times the Senior PGA was at the Nicklaus-designed Harbor Shores in 2012 and 2014, and he figures to be one of the favorites based on the play this year of the 58-year-old German. He already has won twice and leads the money list.
Winning back-to-back majors is difficult enough. Langer is faced with winning back-to-back majors in successive weeks. The PGA Tour Champions schedule is such that three majors are held in a four-week stretch, with the Senior Players Championship two weeks from now.
Then again, Langer has done this before.
Six years ago, he won the Senior British Open at Carnoustie, then traveled across eight time zones and won the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee outside Seattle.
“That’s hard to do because your body is worn out, and we’re wearing out faster in our 50s than the 20- or 30-year-olds do. And they don’t have back-to-back majors,” Langer said. “You learn how to manage your time and your lifestyle and what you need to do to prepare, and some prepare more, some prepare less. I feel I’m well-prepared. I do what I need to do and hopefully I’m not going to be tired come Saturday or Sunday.”
John Daly plays his second of what could be seven majors this year on both tours – he is exempt into the PGA Championship and British Open as a past champion. Daly has failed to seriously contend in his two PGA Tour Champions events since turning 50.
He has tied for 15th and tied for 17th in his two tournaments, though Daly said he is still shaking off rust from not playing much before he turned 50.
“I’m not expecting a lot this week,” he said. “I would love to play great this week, but as long as I keep making a lot of birdies, for me that’s the key. Because I know I’m going to make mistakes, I know I’m going to make doubles right now. It’s just trying to not make so many of them, until I got my game where I want it.”
Colin Montgomerie is the two-time defending champion.
For years, Montgomerie was viewed as being one of the best Wednesday interviews in golf, and this was no exception. Going for his third straight title in the seniors’ oldest championship, the Scot was asked if he had ever won a tournament three times in a row.
“Just the PGA,” he replied.
Montgomerie never won the PGA Championship, or any regular major, so the question was posed again.
“Just the PGA at Wentworth. That was all,” he said, referring to the European Tour’s flagship event. “It wasn’t such a big deal, really. Beat Ernie Els again in 1998. And then I won in ’99 and 2000. So yes, I’ve won one tournament three times in a row, the PGA. And I’m looking at this PGA here. So let’s hope there’s fate involved.”