BERNHARD Langer will jump at the chance to become the oldest player in Ryder Cup history if Paul McGinley wants to pick him for September’s clash with the Americans at Gleneagles.
The 56-year-old’s record-breaking 13-shot victory in the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl on Sunday led both Tom Watson and Colin Montgomerie to suggest he’d be worth one of McGinley’s three wild cards.
Langer made the last of ten appearances in the biennial event at The Belfry in 2002 before leading Europe to their biggest win in the event two years later at Oakland Hills in Detroit.
American Ray Floyd, who was 51 when he lined up in the 1993 match under Watson, is the oldest player to have competed in a Ryder Cup, with Englishman Ted Ray having been a year younger when he represented Great Britain & Ireland in 1927.
Langer, who has now won 24 times in six-and-a-half years since joining the Senior ranks, turns 57 next month, but he is ready and willing if McGinley is prepared to listen to both Watson, his opposite number at Gleneagles, and Montgomerie, the winning captain in 2010.
“Well, you know, we’ve been talking about that for a number of years now because I’ve been playing some really good golf the last six or seven years,” said Langer after hearing what Watson and Montgomerie had to say when left in his wake in South Wales.
“I’m not sure I’m on the radar screen of Paul McGinley and it’s up to the captain. I have no chance to qualify obviously because none of the tournaments where I play count, except the Masters [in which he tied for eighth this year].
“It’s a long shot, but I certainly feel my golf is worthy of playing in the Ryder Cup and I’m fit enough to play whatever is necessary. If you can’t get yourself up to play in the Ryder Cup to represent your country and your flag, you’d better not play golf.”
In 2010, Langer won the Senior Open and the US Senior Open back-to-back to catch Montgomerie’s attention for the match at Celtic Manor. “But Colin didn’t invite me and neither did Woosie [2006 captain Ian Woosnam],” noted Langer.
As things stand, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood are all outside the automatic positions for McGinley’s team, with Stephen Gallacher another player relying on a pick at the moment.
“It could well be difficult,” admitted Langer of the possibility of him being selected ahead of someone from the European Tour. “But the captain has the freedom to choose whoever he wants, and whoever he thinks is most suited to compete in the Ryder Cup and on the type of golf course it is being played on.”
Langer’s incredible win in the R&A’s over-50s major secured a spot in next year’s Open Championship at St Andrews, where he tied for second behind Seve Ballesteros in 1984.
“I don’t go anywhere just to make up the numbers – I might as well stay home and have a week off,” he said.
McGinley, meanwhile, will be limited to commentary work at next week’s US PGA Championship at Valhalla after being forced to withdraw due to a shoulder injury.