Langers Life Changing Masters Victory

By Associated PressApril 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A popular question for just about any player in a green jacket from Augusta National is how winning the Masters changed his life.

No one can answer it quite like Bernhard Langer.

It was 20 years ago this week that the 27-year-old German, dressed all in red with wavy blond hair down to his shoulders, held off Seve Ballesteros and surged past a stumbling Curtis Strange to win his first major championship.
 
Imagine the excitement he felt when he was presented the green jacket in the Butler Cabin. Then came the live interview with CBS Sports, and an innocuous question about whether he looked at the leaderboard.

The response, best Langer can recall, went something like this:
'I looked up for the first time after nine holes and I thought I was playing well, but Jesus Christ! Curtis Strange was four shots ahead.'

Only later did Langer realize what he had said, and the number of people he offended.

'I was not a Christian at the time,' he said. 'It was a powerful expression, and a lot of people used it. A few weeks later, I had a number of fan mail -- well, anti-fan mail -- that said who am I to be swearing on national television? To be using Jesus' name in vain?'

Langer is deliberate in everything he does.

He often puts 20 clubs in his bag during a practice round, trying to figure out which club is best for that course and the various conditions. His yardage book contains so many copious notes there's hardly any space left to write when he's done. His strength has always been his mind.

So his reaction to the 'fan mail' was no different.
 
The letters didn't make him defensive. They made him think.

He began to ask himself who he was, what was important, what was meaningful to him. One of his friends on the PGA Tour was Bobby Clampett, who routinely invited him to Wednesday night Bible studies.

This time, Langer took him up on the offer and brought his wife, Vikki, whom he had met at the 1983 Inverrary Classic and married a year later. The message that night was one of faith, not good deeds.

He started reading his Bible and asking more questions.

'I thought I was doing all the right things,' said Langer, who grew up as a Catholic altar boy. 'I was taught to be a good person, and if you did good things, God will say you've been good enough and you can go to heaven. But that's not what the Bible says.'

Within three months, Langer became a born-again Christian.
 
Langer has 64 victories around the world in his career, two of those at the Masters. He went 16 consecutive years with at least one victory on the European tour, a hallmark of his consistency. He became a stalwart for Europe in the Ryder Cup -- 10 times as a player, and last year as captain of the biggest European victory in history.

But for all his achievements, Langer is regarded as much for how he lives than what he has won.
 
And he wonders where he would be without his innocent comment in the Butler Cabin that Sunday afternoon in 1985, and the life-changing experience that followed.

Fast-forward to 1991 at Kiawah Island in the Ryder Cup. Playing against Hale Irwin in the final singles match, Langer stood over a 6-foot putt with the trophy riding on the outcome. His miss produced one of the most compelling images of how intense the Ryder Cup has become.

Langer threw his head back in utter angst, his neck straining as he let out a guttural cry of despair.

A moment like that could end someone's career.

Langer won the next week in the German Masters by making a 15-foot putt in a playoff.

'If the Ryder Cup happened to be 10 years earlier, I might have fallen apart. Who knows?' Langer said. 'Having a personal relationship with God, knowing there is a bigger picture, knowing there is more to life than golf and success, I could cope with it. And I got over it pretty quick.

'My faith has helped me not in difficult times, but in good times -- in all times.'

He does not beat his peers over the head with his Bible. He does not consider himself superior to others. And when he's on the golf course, he is thinking about winning.

He does not know if God cares who wins; Langer figures he'll ask him that one day.

'I did a lot of praying at the Ryder Cup,' he said of his captaincy, which produced an 181/2-91/2 victory. 'I prayed for a close match, and I'm grateful my prayer didn't get answered.'

Langer made it back to the Butler Cabin in 1993 with a four-shot victory at the Masters, the widest margin of victory in 10 years at Augusta National. Fred Couples helped him put on the green jacket.

Then came the live interview with CBS, and a question about how special it was to win the Masters for a second time.

Yes, it was quite an honor to win what he considers the greatest golf tournament in the world.

Langer couldn't help but mention that he won on Easter Sunday, and how important that day is to Christians.

He now reflects on his two visits to the cabin and draws a conclusion that makes him smile.

'I sometimes joke,' he said, 'that I'm the only one to mention 'Jesus Christ' in Butler Cabin twice.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
     
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x