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Brain over Brawn

‘I don't see the point in doing anything unless you try to do it the very best that you can.’

These are the words of Bernhard Langer, the two times Masters Champion and the captain of the victorious European Ryder Cup side of 2004 that inflicted the USA’s worst ever defeat since the competition started in 1927. Langer transferred the qualities which enabled him to play at the highest level for many years, such as his attention to detail, focus and will to win, to arguably one of the hardest jobs in the world of sport – captaining the European Ryder Cup team on American soil. The great success of this side was testimony to its leader – they won the competition by a margin of 18½ to 9½ points, the largest by a European team in the history of the event.

His abilities as a leader and motivator appeared most prominently during the team meeting the night before the final days play, when this normally reserved character delivered a momentous and passionate speech that inspired his players to outclass their American opponents and silence the thousands of American supporters, “Tomorrow, we f***ing bury them!” Langer had great judgement and was able to get into the minds of his players. His mental fortitude and ability to turn adversity into triumph have never been in question and contributed to his aptitude as an inspiring figure. This mental strength is evident in how Langer had for many years carried the burden of knowing he had missed the decisive put during the 1991 Ryder Cup that lead to victory for the USA.

Langer has had a magnificent career of longevity and success since turning pro in 1972, with three PGA tour victories and forty career wins on the European tour (the second highest in history). He was also the inaugural world number one when the official world rankings were introduced in 1986 and was elected to the ‘World Golf Hall of Fame’ in 2002. Langer has made ten appearances in The Ryder Cup, just one behind Nick Faldo's record. He has played on five winning teams in 1985, 1987, 1995, 1997 and 2002 and his individual contribution is exceptional - from a total of 42 ties, Langer has won 21, halved six and lost 15. Yet, throughout this he has had to contend with a twitch from which he always emerged stronger than ever. He is one of only a handful of players to have won sanctioned professional tournaments on every continent on which the game is played: Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Australia. In 2006, in recognition of his contribution to the sport, he was made an OBE.

With great judgement, experience, focus, commitment and the ability to get the best out of his players, Langer represented all that you would want in a captain. These qualities enabled him to bring the trophy back to Europe in spectacular fashion. He may not have been the most outspoken and domineering of captains, yet he symbolises a leader who achieved success through an unerring determination to get the job done and leave no stone unturned in the search for perfection.

The life of Bernhard Langer (OBE)

VITAL STATISTICS

Born: August 27, 1957
Place of birth: Augsburg, Germany
Height: 1.74m
Weight: 74kg
Marital Status: married to his American wife Vikki Carol since 1984. They have four children: Jackie, Stefan, Christina, and Jason
Current Residence: Florida, USA
Professional Wins: 88 – 3 PGA tour (two times Masters champion), 42 European tour (2nd all time), 1 Japan Golf Tour, 16 Champions Tour, 3 European Seniors Tour and 26 Other
Ryder Cup Record: 10 playing appearances, winning in 1985, 1987, 1989, 1995, 1997 and 2002.  One as winning captain in 2004
Favourite Athlete – Bjorn Borg

Interesting fact - Langer started playing on the European Tour in 1976, but his Euro Tour career was interrupted by 18 months in the German Air Force!

DOWNTIME

  • Devout Christian – he helps organise regular meetings of the European Tour Bible Class
  • Driving fast cars
  • Teaching
  • Reading – favourite book is The Bible