[PHOTO: Andrew Redington]

In January, two-time champion Bernhard Langer announced that he would be teeing it up at the Masters for the final time in 2024. Less than two months later, he had to make a painful report that a pickleball(!) injury would sideline him for what would’ve been his 41st Masters appearance.

“So I played pickleball with some of my friends,” Langer explained. “My opponent lobbed me and I did a few steps back, jumped up, hit it. That’s how I landed. I heard this loud noise and pain in my leg and went down on the ground and, uh, at first I thought I hit something walking backwards, but as I looked around me, there was nothing there and I realised, uh, most likely it’s a torn Achilles tendon.

“And the very next day I had surgery, I immediately kind of started talking about, ‘Well, what does this mean?’ Because I had no idea, you know, how long will I be out? Will I ever be back? That kind of thing.”

An Achilles tendon tear isn’t something that most of us could come back from (especially if we were 66 years old) but there’s a reason why he’s a former world No.1 and the all-time leader in victories on the PGA Tour Champions.

Just a few months after his brutal injury, Langer is set to return this week at the Insperity Invitational at The Woodlands. The sexagenarian recapped his “miraculous comeback journey” and went so far as to state that he has plenty of good golf left to play, hopefully including one more competitive go at Augusta National.

“I think I can still be very productive for a few more years,” he said. “I still think I have a lot of good golf left in me. My goal was always to be the best that I can be, and I think if I get back to being my best again, even at my age, I still think I’m competitive. And I still think I can win on certain golf courses.”

How Bernhard Langer broke a golf record considered unbreakable

Langer’s recovery focused on physical therapy work and a metal block that hindered him from putting weight on his left foot. He was even inspired by Aaron Rodgers’ recovery from a similar Achilles injury in his first game playing for the New York Jets.

“That lifted my spirit, you know, when I heard that he was back on the field, throwing the ball after, I think it was eight or nine weeks. That encouraged me that I might be able to do something similar. That was good.”

Arguably the most impressive part of the whole thing is the fact he’s doing it at all. Having broken Hale Irwin’s all-time senior wins record last year, Langer might have reason to say enough is enough rather than put in all the time and training. But golf still means a lot to him, as does defending his US Senior Open title this northern summer at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island.

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