Like many golfers of all levels hoping to keep playing as long as possible, Bernhard Langer is in a battle with Father Time.
He’s aware of Father Time’s undefeated record. He’s still throwing punches anyway. And he’s landing a few, too.
Langer recently broke the record for the most PGA Tour Champions victory at the U.S. Senior Open. It was his record-setting 46th victory on the tour, breaking a tie with Hale Irwin, and his 12th major title.
He’ll also be celebrating his 66th birthday next month. Nobody has had more success on the PGA Tour Champions than Langer. Nobody has kept jabbing with Father Time at a higher level of performance longer than him, either.
“Father Time is always winning at some point, and I’m just trying to slow down the process of aging and falling apart,” Langer said ahead of Thursday’s Round 1 of the 2023 Kaulig Companies Championship. “I certainly have more aches and pains now than I’ve had 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. That just comes with the territory.”
Langer has three titles at Firestone Country Club, so his widespread success has also been felt in Akron. What’s behind his success in competing — and winning — into his mid-60s? It’s part mental, part physical, part genetics.
One could say it’s the holy trinity of punching Father Time in the mouth.
The first element? Genetics. Langer’s mom will be turning 100 in two weeks.
“Hopefully I have my mother’s genes,” he said.
The second ingredient? The drive to be the best never left him. That fire has remained stoked for decades, and it’s burning as bright now as it did during his best years on the PGA Tour.
“Yeah, that’s another thing not everybody has, and I think it was given to me — the drive I have is very unusual,” Langer said. “To be turning 66 in a month from now and still want to improve and get better and compete with the young guys out here, many people don’t have that.
“You look at Byron Nelson — his drive was to win enough money to buy a farm and be a farmer. So, everybody’s different.”
Ingredient number three? Langer has worked hard to maintain his same fitness levels. Quite amazingly, he still uses the same iron shaft flex that he has for the last 40 years. In order to make that work, his swing speed would need to remain stable.
Langer has, of course, noticed some slight distance loss with his driver and 3-wood. That is to be expected. But through some altered workouts, he’s actually regained some driver clubhead speed.
Father Time threw an uppercut, but Langer was able to land a few jabs.
“As I said, I’m trying to slow down the process of aging,” Langer said. “I’m not going to win. I’m just going to try and slow it down.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.