Bernhard Langer never won the Open Championship but he has a great chance to win the Senior version for the fourth time at St. Andrews this week. The German player only won two majors on the regular tour but has now won 10 of the championships that matter most in over 50’s golf. Langer is the best Senior player in the world and he can confirm that status with a win at the Home of Golf.
Langer has played in the Open 31 times and made the cut at Carnoustie last week. Nothing seems to have changed in his physique and method of play since he first played in the Open in 1976. That championship was played at Royal Birkdale and Langer stayed in a tent on the beach up the coast. He missed the cut that week but made the weekend in 24 of his Open starts. Langer won the US Masters in 1985 and 1993 which at first glance seems a poor return from 106 starts in the majors.
However, he was at his peak during the halcyon days for players like Nick Faldo, Severiano Ballesteros and Sandy Lyle. Tom Watson was still contending in major championships up until the mid-eighties and Greg Norman was at his peak. Langer was playing in a great era and was competing against multiple major champions. He made the top 10 in 19 majors and was the runner-up in the Open in two years. Langer has taken his game to a new level since joining the Seniors Tour in 2007.
From 1984 to 1986 Langer did not finish outside the top three in the Open. He was tied second behind Ballesteros at St. Andrews in 1984 and was third in the next two Opens won by Lyle and Norman. Langer was tied fifth as recently as 2005 and was tied 24th in this year’s Open. He has the course form, current form and record in Senior majors to win at St. Andrews this week. Langer has won each of the five majors for the older generation so he has won the Senior career Grand Slam.
Jerry Kelly leads the money list on the US Champions Tour and is the second favourite for the Senior Open. He has won just one tournament this season but has produced a run of consistent golf. Kelly never won a major on the regular tour and at aged 51 is playing a full season with the older generation for the first time. He played in the Open Championship 11 times but did not record a top 25 finish which suggests he doesn’t have a game suited to links golf. Langer should have nothing to fear from Kelly in Scotland this week.
Colin Montgomerie is another player who has had more success in majors for Seniors than in his first career. He won the European Order of Merit eight times but never won a major or any tournament in the United States. However, that all changed after his 50th birthday and he has got both monkeys of his back. Monty has now won three majors for the elder statesman and won six events in total on the Champions Tour. He won bring the house down if he won the Senior Open in Scotland.
Paul Broadhurst was successful on the European Tour with six wins but he has had a new lease of life since joining the over 50s brigade. His nine Senior titles include four wins on the Champions Tour and two of those wins were in majors. Broadhurst has won a Senior event in each of the last four seasons so is clearly in his comfort zone at this level. However, alongside the rest of the field he is playing for second place behind Langer at St. Andrews this week.