When it comes to converting final rounds leads, Bernhard Langer is in an elite category.
In his PGA Tour Champions career, Langer had held the solo lead heading into the final round 27 times heading into the week. He had converted 18 of those times. For those doing the math at home, that’s a 66.6% success rate. Needless to say, when Bernhard shows up with the lead on Sunday, it’s almost a lock that he’s going to leave with the trophy. Sunday at the Oasis Championship was just the latest example of that.
Entering the final round with a one shot lead, Langer shut down the idea of anyone running him down pretty early. He opened with birdies on three of his first four holes and five in his first seven. By the time he hit the turn he already found himself with a five shot lead. From there, it was largely cruise control mode on his way to a bogey-free 7-under 65 . He also set a new tournament scoring record, shooting a 19-under 197 over the course of the three days.
Langer is no stranger to winning on any Tour in his career, and that’s especially true on the PGA Tour Champions. This week’s five shot win was his 39th win on the over-50 circuit, trailing only all-time wins leader Hale Irwin who has 45. The win, and the $255,000 check that comes with it, also makes Langer the new career money leader on the PGA Tour Champions. At $27,196,504, Langer surpased previous all-time money leader Irwin who has earned $27,120,554 in his PGA Tour Champions career.
“It just shows I guess how well I played the last 11 years out here and how fortunate I am and how blessed I am to have won more money than anybody before me with all the great guys in the game, all the legends that have played,” Langer said when asked about what it meant to take over as the all-time leading money winner on Tour.
While Irwin still makes appeareances on the PGA Tour Champions, it’s a matter of when, not if, Langer surpasses Hale in the all-time wins category as well. That’s because at the ripe age of 61, Langer is showing no signs on slowing down anytime soon.
“I’ve been fortunate enough not to have any major surgeries so far besides my thumb in 2011, so that’s key,” Langer said. “You’ve got to be healthy, otherwise you can’t play, and a lot of guys at age 61 aren’t healthy anymore. They had this operation or that operation or a knee replacement or a hip replacement or whatever it may be. Then you still have to have the drive to work on the game and believe you can get better. I have a wonderful coach with Willi Hofmann, who’s been with me for 43 years. I spent a whole week with him here in Boca Raton here in January, we worked on every aspect of the game from putting to chipping, bunker shots to the long game just to put me — let me know what I need to work on to possibly improve. So I have that kind of road map set for the year.”
Photos courtesy of Scott Halleran