EDMOND — Five-time Ryder Cup teammate Colin Montgomerie said Bernhard Langer has been hotter than Germany’s soccer team.
“Which is ridiculously good,” Montgomerie said. “Clinically, I’d say their football team is very sound, but so is Bernhard Langer. Their football team is very well prepared; so is Bernhard Langer. All in all, we have someone that we should be very proud of, someone who is dominating the (Champions) Tour.
“I hate to say at (age) 57 he’s raising his game to new standards, but that’s what he’s doing. It’s fantastic to see someone can actually improve over (age) 50. There are very few guys that can improve over 40. Bernhard Langer appears to be improving over 50, so of course he’s the guy to beat.”
When asked to name a favorite to win the 2014 U.S. Senior Open, which begins Thursday at Oak Tree National, Langer is the first name everyone mentions. The German has been that dominant since he joined the Champions Tour six years ago.
“He’s driving it longer than he probably ever has and he’s driving it even longer this year than a couple of years ago,” said Tom Lehman, who has 34 career pro wins. “He’s totally committed to do whatever it takes to stay at this level, whether it’s testing new equipment, staying in good shape, all those things.”
Langer said a meticulous work ethic was engrained in him growing up in Anhausen when money was scarce. His father was a bricklayer while his mother was a homemaker who looked after the kids. The family couldn’t afford a car, so everyone rode bicycles.
“Coming from a humble background, having to work for everything, helped me,” Langer said earlier this year. “Nothing was handed to me. Seeing my parents work extremely hard their whole life had a profound influence on me. I don’t shy away from hard work. I’d like to think I’m pretty disciplined.”
That work ethic has helped Langer take his game to a new level when other Champions Tour players are simply trying to remain competitive.
The winner of the 1985 and 1993 Masters, Langer joins Gary Player, David Graham and Hale Irwin as the only four players to win an official tournament on six continents.
Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002, Langer has played on 10 Ryder Cup teams. Despite his success, he’s motivated to improve.
“Because golf is so technical and so mental, you actually can get better because you have had more time to groove the swing and fine-tune it,” Langer said. “Secondly, you’re still learning about yourself and the mental part of the game, what shots you can pull off, what shots you can’t pull off, just play the game in general.