It’s an interesting question, and one that European team captain Colin Montgomerie would not dismiss. Langer is leading the Champions Tour money list for the third straight year, and he demonstrated impressive mental fortitude when he won the Senior British Open at Carnoustie, then flew through eight time zones for the Senior U.S. Open the very next week, and outdueled hometown hero Fred Couples at Sahalee. (By the way, what is with the back-to-back majors on different continents?)
“He (Langer) said afterward that he used everything he had learned in the Ryder Cup to overcome a very vocal home support, and I think it wouldn’t be such a dramatic move to have someone of that age and that experience in the team,” Montgomerie said.
“It wouldn’t be such an out-of-the-blue pick. I think he’s playing as well as he ever has and he’s said he is. And I know through having played with Bernhard Langer that he is as good a partner as anyone could ever have.”
Langer has played in 10 Ryder Cups, but none since 2002 at The Belfry. Langer turns 53 at the end of the month, and if picked, he would be the oldest competitor in Ryder Cup history. His team has won six of the 10 times he played, and Langer also captained Europe to a victory in 2004. While he missed a 5-footer that would have won in 1991 at Kiawah, Langer recovered to have a tremendous Ryder Cup career, winning 24 points, second only to Faldo’s 25.
“If he wants me on the team I would definitely consider it, yes,” said Langer on Sunday.
As for playing with the big boys, the two-time Masters champion Langer has competed in just seven tournaments that count for points in the world golf rankings over the last two years. He has two top 10s (one on the European Tour and one on the Asian Tour), but he’s missed the cut in both Masters, the only major he’s played.
“I would not rule out picking Bernhard,” said Montgomerie about Langer’s stellar Champions Tour play. “I’m not ruling out anybody, especially someone who has performed to that degree and is in the form of his life.”
Europe could be without the services of world No. 3 Lee Westwood, who pulled out of the Bridgestone Invitational after two rounds with a recurring calf injury. The Englishman said he will need at least six weeks of rest and treatment before he can return to golf. The Ryder Cup is scheduled for Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor in Wales.
The door could be opened to select Langer as one of Montgomerie’s three wild card picks if European Tour stalwarts Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington or Justin Rose can play their way onto the team. Sergio Garcia is another candidate for a wild card, although Montgomerie has said the Spaniard is running out of time to find his previous form. Garcia has slipped to 46th in the world, and hasn’t produced a top 10 in a stroke play event this year.
It would be a sly move to pick the battle-hardened Langer. Should U.S. captain Corey Pavin be taking a closer look at Tom Watson or Couples?
[AP Photo/Ted S. Warren]