At 66 Langer is making a comeback from Achilles surgery


OCALA, FL. – Yes, I know that there has been some monumental golf news  the last few weeks – Nelly Korda winning five LPGA tournaments in a row and Scottie Scheffler getting four wins and a runner-up finish in his last five starts, and both winning major titles during those hot streaks.

Those are huge developments, but this is pretty significant, too.  Bernhard Langer, the winningest player in the history of PGA Tour Champions, reports that he’s on the mend from a serious injury and is even ready to set a target date for his return to competition.

Langer is 66 years old.  He won three Masters (1985, 1993) and wpjm42 times on the DP World Tour and three times on the PGA Tour in addition to his 46 Champions victories.

And then came a game of pickleball in February.

Langer took a tumble Langer and underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. One of the most fit players in golf went down with a career-threatening injury.

Last week, with help from Tour Edge – his Illinois-based club provider – Langer was ready to talk about it.

“I was at a country club in Boca Raton (FL), where I live, and I do other sports there – like ping pong and pickleball,’’ said Langer.  “This time I was playing pickleball and my opponent lobbed me.  I took a few steps back and heard a loud noise and felt pain in my leg. At first I thought I’d hit something but saw that there was nothing there.’’

He had surgery the following day while fearing what the results might bring.

“ I started to wonder what this meant.  I had no idea how long I’d be out, if I’d ever be back,’’ he said.

Those fears have subsided considerably, Langer has been practicing golf and has a goal in mind:  play in the Insperity Championship May 3-5 at The Woodlands in Texas.  It’s a tournament Langer has won four times over an 11-year span, the wins coming in 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2018.

“That’s what I’m training for,’’ he said.  “Everything has to go perfectly for me to be competing in Houston.’’

Immediately after surgery Langer’s leg was put in a heavy boot, much like skiers use.  Eventually he was switched to a less cumbersome one and was told by his medical advisors to stand up.

“At first I had a mental block,’’ said Langer. “I didn’t stand for weeks.  I’d been laying on a couch for weeks and losing muscle stretngth, which I didn’t want to do.’’

So, Langer made an effort to stand up.

“I got up with no issues,’’ he said, and his healing increased immediately.

He does upper body issues every day and has some exercises designed to strengthen his Achilles. He carries a band with him for those, which have improved his rotation.

“Other athletes have had similar injuries, and I’ve followed the story of Aaron Rodgers, the New York Jets quarterback,’’ said Langer.  “He had the same procedure as me and came back fairly quickly.  When I learned he was on the field throwing the ball after eight-nine weeks that encouraged me.  It lifted my spirits.’’

Langer had intended to make his last appearance in the Masters in April, but the surgery ruled that out. He vows it won’t end his tournament career, though.

“My goal has always been to be the best I can be,’’ he said.  “I still think I can be competitive and win on certain courses. I can be productive for a few more years.  I’ve still got some good golf in me.’’

I believe he does, too, and look forward to seeing it.  The golf world needs more players like Bernhard Langer.