Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Bernhard Langer: Golf’s Iron Man

Bernhard Langer: Golf's Iron Man
(PA Images/Alamy)

OK, here’s a quiz question: when the Official World Golf Ranking was launched in 1986, then known as the Sony Ranking, who was the first recorded world No. 1 (week ending April 6, 1986)?

Yes, it was Bernhard Langer, with 1056 points, chased by Seve Ballesteros (1002). And it was Langer’s Masters triumph the previous year that had caused him to rocket to fame. During that decade Langer was rarely out of the top 5 in events played. Then he won the Masters a second time in 1993.

Years of Success

Bernhard Langer (b. August 27, 1957), who turned pro in 1972, continued his high-profile career throughout the 80s and 90s, and, many would argue, well into the new century, too, also being elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2006, recognizing his contribution to golf, the German national was awarded the British OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order on the British Empire). In his native Germany, Langer has also received numerous honors.

Relentless Senior

Aged 50, Langer made the mandatory transition from the PGA TOUR to the PGA TOUR Champions, the senior tour for players aged 50+, and in 2008 he was voted Rookie of the Year on that tour.

2015 saw Langer become the first player since Arnold Palmer (1984–85) to win the Constellation Senior Players Championship in back-to-back years. The following year, Langer claimed the Regions Tradition title for his sixth senior major championship in 2016.

Today, Langer has the legendary status of golf’s iron man, continuing his impressive form at the senior level. He won three more senior majors in 2017 (Regions Traditions, Senior PGA Championship, Senior Open Championship) to become the most decorated player of all time in the senior ranks.

Age Beater

It was on a beautiful morning, February 17, 2023, that Langer bounced out of the locker room with a spring in his step to defend his champions title at the Chubb Classic, Tiburón Golf Club’s Black Course, Naples, Fla. Cheerfully telling us he was “All loose and limbered up now and ready to go,” having made a two-hour drive to reach the venue.

During the event, Langer seemed to defy his 65 years. Getting into his stride, he shot his age or below twice in three days at the Chubb. He opened with a 64 and closed with a 65. Langer finished 17-under to win the tournament in back-to-back years, receiving $270,000 of the event’s $1.8 million purse, along with rapturous applause from the fans.

This was first published in Essential Golf – you can read the complete magazine here.