Golf is unique as a professional sport as players can expect to have 20-25 years of being highly competitive on Tour.
Bernhard Langer turned professional 39 years ago however, and at the age of 56 is playing just as well and is still just as determined as when he first came out on tour.
Many professional golfers lose many different aspects of their physical and mental game when they get older. They lose their touch around the greens, putting woes start to creep in, the swing doesn't function as well and length slowly decreases. This causes doubts to creep in to the mind and can often lead to players giving up on staying competitive or just retiring.
Recently we have seen examples of players that are ageing but still performing excellently. Tom Watson came within a putt of winning the 2009 Open Championship at the age of 59, Fred Couples always seems to do well at The Masters every year despite being 54-years-old and the much loved Miguel Angel Jimenez keeps on getting better with age. None of these players, however, can match the incredible consistency that Langer has displayed in recent years.
Last week the machine-like German put in by far his worst performance of the year, shooting his first over par round of the season and finishing in a measly tie for ninth place. In his last 52 events on the US Champions Tour, he has only finished outside of the top 25 once, and only outside of the top ten four times. He has accumulated six wins over that time and countless other top five performances on his way to cruising to two successive Schwab Cup titles and most likely a third this year.
This season he has only finished outside of the top three twice in his eight events. He has also only fired one over par round of golf from the 25 he has played this year, a feat that is unheard of and requires extraordinary focus combined with top quality golf.
A good example of just how well he has been playing is his tied eighth place finish at The US Masters tournament a month ago, where he beat all but seven of the best players in the world on a golf course where decreased length should have made it hard for the German to do well. On a course where he won his two green jackets however, Langer thrived at Augusta.
Despite the decreased physical strength that comes with age, Langer is still good enough to mix it with the very best players in the world. In just one tournament on the European Tour this season, The Masters, Langer is sitting at 67th in the Race to Dubai and has made more money than top players like Edoardo Molinari and Robert Rock, who have both played 14 events apiece.
Langer practices harder than almost any other player on any tour and is still extremely determined to be the best golfer he can be at 56 years of age, which has lead to his complete dominance over his fellow seniors. Rather than reflecting on his already hugely successful career, his past success has only served as motivatation to continue to play well.
With the first Senior Major of the year on this week, the best of the over-50's have assembled to try and take home the Senior PGA Championship trophy. Mid way through Friday's round, you would be shocked to hear, Langer was tied for the lead after two under par rounds on a very difficult Major layout. As Langer goes for yet another Senior tour title and yet another top ten finish, it appears as though the German machine is in no need of oiling any time soon.
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