Bernhard Langer, a Masters Stalwart for 40 Years, Sits This One Out

Bernhard Langer was set to play in his final Masters Tournament this week. He first played there in 1982, when he was cut, and he has missed only the 2011 Masters, because of a thumb injury, since he won his first in 1985.

This year’s event was supposed to be a valedictory for a player, who, at 66, had also won the tournament in 1993 and contended in the final round as recently as 2020, when he finished tied for 29th. That put him a stroke ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, the reigning United States Open champion at the time, who consistently out-drove Langer by about 100 yards all week.

Instead, the perennially fit Langer was felled by something that has likely taken down some of his Florida neighbors who aren’t two-time Masters champions: a pickleball injury.

It could have been worse, he said in an interview in March. A neighbor who is a foot and ankle surgeon ran over when he saw Langer drop to the ground and sent Langer for an M.R.I. He had torn his Achilles’ tendon, and the doctor got him into a stabilizing boot so he wouldn’t injure his foot further.

“I started rehab three days after surgery,” he said.

It’s a tough way for a golf great to go down. But the more remarkable feat might be that Langer lasted this long at this level. While aging rockers like the Rolling Stones can just keep replaying their hits, golfers have to continue producing exceptional shots against players a third their age.

Langer, right, received a Masters green jacket from Ben Crenshaw after winning the tournament for the first time in 1985.Credit…John Iacono/Sports Illustrated, via Getty Images
Langer won the Masters a second time in 1993.Credit…Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto, via Getty Images
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