Bernhard Langer, Champions tour's most consistent man, seeks 1st MGRC win

 Bernhard Langer has been a dominant force on the PGA Tour Champions over the last eight years, but he is seeking his first win in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD/2014 Bernhard Langer has been a dominant force on the PGA Tour Champions over the last eight years, but he is seeking his first win in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. SUN HERALD

SAUCIER -- You can make a strong case that Bernhard Langer has been the most consistent man in professional golf over the last decade.

While others have dealt with injuries and the usual ups and downs of the game, Langer keeps turning out top 10 finishes and tournament wins.

PGA Tour Champions has held four events so far this year and Langer has four top 10 finishes, including a win at the Chubb Classic on Feb. 14 in Naples, Fla.

While it seems that Langer has won every nearly event on the Champions tour, he has yet to claim a title at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak.

Competition begins on Friday at MGRC and Langer will join Miguel Angel Jimenez and Colin Montgomerie in what will likely be the most popular group of the day. The trio will start play at 11:10 a.m. on tee No. 1.

Langer will begin competition as one of the favorites to take home the trophy and the winner's purse of $240,000.

"It's been a good start," Langer said Tuesday of his season so far. "I feel good. I was a little sick last week and I'm still getting over it. Otherwise, I feel great. I'm looking forward to the tournament. I played yesterday and the course is in phenomenal condition -- great greens, beautiful fairways. It's a great test."

This will be the German's fifth time to compete in the MGRC. He lagged behind his first two years in the tournament, finishing tied for 39th in 2010 and tied for 17th in 2012.

He narrowly missed out on MGRC wins the last two times. He finished one stroke behind winner Michael Allen in 2013 and finished in third in 2014, a tournament won by Jeff Maggert.

He skipped last year's MGRC and is hoping for a strong return to Fallen Oak this weekend.

"I think the bunkers are very punishing," Langer said of the course. "It's probably playing a little longer than most courses we play on."

If Langer's play of late is any indication, he will be near the top of the standings entering the third round on Sunday.

It's that consistency that separates Langer from the rest of the Champions tour.

He had 13 top 10 finishes last season to easily out-distance the competition in that category.

Langer, 58, is the current money leader on the PGA Tour Champions at $456,250 and is third all-time on the tour with $18,361,283, ranking only behind Hale Irwin ($26,978,421) and Gil Morgan ($20,568,528).

What does it take to be so consistent on the Champions tour?

"You've got to be good at every aspect of the game," Langer said. "You've got to drive the ball well because you've got to keep it in play. You hit as many greens as possible and have a really good short game. The short game is very important because that's where over half the strokes are. To do that all, you have to stay healthy. Some guys have injuries or get hurt. When you've been doing this as long as we've been doing this, many guys just have physical issues. A lot of guys are pretty fit and doing well. I'm blessed to have eight amazing years so far."

While golf pros spend more and more time in the gym these days, Langer was out ahead of that trend.

He eats right and is just as trim as the day he stepped on the course for the first time as a pro.

"I workout almost on a daily basis, but so do a lot of other guys. I'm not the only one," Langer said. "Fitness has become a big part of the game of golf. You see it on the PGA Tour now. The guys are real athletes. It's catching on and it's beneficial no matter what you do.

"I've always enjoyed playing sports, working out. You just feel better because you flush out all the toxins when you workout. You have more energy. You're probably able to focus better, concentrate better. You have more stamina as well."

Langer takes the course Friday knowing he's competed well at Fallen Oak in the past, but he wants to get over the hump with a championship.

"It's often just the rub of the green. Sometimes you get a good break or bad break and it makes all the difference. I'm going to give it my best shot and see how that stands up against the other guys."

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