The German became the oldest player ever to have made the cut, beating Tommy Aaron’s record. Langer, the two-time Masters champion, has made six of the last eight cuts at Augusta, a feat hardly recognised yet incredibly newsworthy. Bernard got to play with two of the longest hitters on the Tour at the weekend; Rory McIlroy and the aforementioned Bryson Dechambeau.
Known for his sharp focus on the golf course, Langer found himself spectating and watching these two fabulous exponents of the long ball and realising that he had to snap out of it and concentrate on his own game. In his final round he had to hit 2 three woods and six rescues into par fours. A factor which didn’t go unnoticed by his playing partners who marvelled at the German’s ability to grind a score and compete at the highest level at age 63.
He knew that he wasn’t going to be able to contend for the green jacket this year and he wasn’t surprised that he could compete and make the cut; “it’s all about the putter” he says. If it’s warm or hot he can shoot par or below, if it’s cold then he has very little chance. So with that game plan in mind he goes out and does his very best with every single golf shot. Playing the angles, taking his chances and hopefully holing a few putts.
I think the best example of how differently the game can be played is the way the 3rd hole was covered by the two players. Bryson pulled driver out and hit the green, Langer hits a rescue lay up, then hits a great shot into the green and holes the birdie putt, well Bryson three putts for par.
Dechambeau outdrove his German counterpart by 768 yards over the course of the 18 holes they played, yet Langer bettered the American by two shots when the cards were handed in. Amazing really.
Another delightful subplot for the weekend’s golf, was that the admiration went both ways. Whilst Bernhard was in awe of the distance his playing partners were hitting the ball, they reciprocated this feeling watching him plot his way around the golf course, calculating every angle to his advantage and executing each shot as if his life depended on it. It goes to show that distance isn’t everything, never has been and never will be.
Accuracy and precision has always been Bernard Langer’s hallmark, there are many stories to back this up. My personal favourite is when the German was asked in an exhibition on the driving range to hit the ball over the numbers 200 yards away, Bernard with a slight grin inquired which number particularly did the spectator want him to hit the ball over.
That story is 35-years-old, and nothing has changed. Does he believe he can make a few more cuts, definitely, so long as the putter behaves itself.
Which rounds itself nicely towards the players I tend to coach who have been known to come into the Academy saying my irons play okay, if only I could sort my driver out. With little mention or focus given to the short game.
There are definitely lessons to be learned here such as age proofing your game by having a strong 100 yards to the hole game. It’s not sexy but it does work.