World Golf Hall of Fame Profile: Bernhard Langer
By achieving international fame and fortune on the professional circuits of the world, Bernhard Langer lifted golf from obscurity in his native Germany. Langer was a trailblazer in his native land, where there was only one public course and 130,000 golfers. Both figures have grown tremendously due to Langer's presence.
One of the most remarkably consistent and resilient professionals, Langer routinely conquered adversity in the form of the putting "yips" to reach the top, and he still remains in the upper echelon of the game today.
Growing up, Langer fell in love with the challenge that golf presented. At age eight, he followed his brother's footsteps by caddying at the Augsburg G.
Langer left school at age 14 to pursue golf as a profession. In 1976, he joined the European Tour. Just as Langer became successful, he developed the "yips." All of a sudden his hands no longer followed the instructions the brain was sending and the putter head seemed to leap forward on its own accord. But Langer is one of the few players ever to discover a cure. On four separate occasions, Langer conquered his putting woes.
"As a youngster I never thought twice about holing short putts, but when I moved to the fast tournament greens, my confidence was shattered and I had to start all over again."
Langer experienced his breakthrough in America using the cross-handed method. Ironically, he overcame his putting woes to win the world's most demanding putting contest, recording his first major victory in the 1985 Masters. Langer rallied from a four-stroke deficit at the turn on Sunday and birdied four of the last seven holes to pass Curtis Strange.
His victory was testament to his hard work at crafting a reliable stroke under pressure and his magical touch continued one week later when he won the Sea Pines Heritage Classic at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Said Langer, "1985 was my best year ever. I won seven tournaments on five continents and became the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world." No. 1, indeed. When the inaugural Sony World Ranking debuted in April 1986, Langer was the first-ever No. 1.
Eight years after his first Masters title, Langer won again at Augusta with a decisive eagle 3 on the 13th and he cruised to a four-stroke victory over Chip Beck.
Langer won 42 times on the European Tour as well as wins in Australia, Japan and South Africa. Among his victories, the last nine came using an oversized broom-handle putter.
Americans probably know him best from the Ryder Cup from 1985-1991, turning the Cup from a one-sided event into one of the most exciting in sports. He helped Europe win on American soil for the first time in '87, but in '91 it was his barely missed six-foot par putt on the final hole of the last singles match against Hale Irwin that enabled the U.S. to regain the Cup for the first time since 1983.
In the era of the long ball, Langer still prospers. His remarkable consistency is perhaps best reflected in his European Tour records for consecutive cuts made (68) and consecutive years with a victory (17, shared with Seve Ballesteros).
Langer was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame through the International ballot in 2001, but chose to defer his induction until 2002.
"I have tried to achieve a level of consistency throughout my career, and to have it culminate with this election (to the World Golf Hall of Fame) means a great deal to me," Langer said. He joins an elite circle that now includes its first native German.