Germany’s Bernhard Langer entered Sunday at Augusta National in a staggering position, a shot off the lead of the most celebrated of the four Majors despite the fact that when you call up his name on the PGA website, the default setting puts you on his PGA Champions Tour page, not the main tour.
Langer is 58, more than double the age of the two men who started the tournament in front of him – Jordan Spieth (22) and Smylie Kaufman (24).
As a two-time Masters champion (1985, 1993), Langer has a lifetime exemption to the event and has made the most of it, playing Augusta every year but one since 1984.
And the low scores as his age has advanced have not been a fluke. He finished tied for seventh at age 39 in 1997; tied for sixth at age 43 in 2001; tied for fourth at age 46 in 2004; and tied for eighth in 2014 at age 56.
He by and large left the PGA Tour for the Champions Tour upon turning 50. Since 2008 he has played just 11 PGA Tour events, but has stayed very active, averaging 20 events per year on the Champions Tour and dominating it, racking up 25 victories and finishing first in prize money in the Schwab Cup seven times.
Langer is already the answer to a couple of great golf trivia questions – he’s the first man to be ranked No. 1 in the world by the Official Golf World Rankings – holding the crown for three weeks; and the first German/West German man to win a Major.
Langer entered the Masters with 99 career victories – 42 on the European Tour. He first won Augusta in 1985 by two strokes by birdying four of the last seven holes. The three men who finished second were Curtis Strange, now 61 years old; Raymond Floyd, now 73; and Seve Ballesteros, who tragically died of brain cancer in 2011 at age 54.