By Andrew Both
CARY, North Carolina (Reuters) - Bernhard Langer refuses to put a time limit on his success as the 61-year-old German eyes becoming the oldest winner in the history of the Champions Tour.
Langer notched his 37th victory on the 50-and-over U.S.- based circuit when he won a tournament in Texas in May.
That remains his only win this year, a relatively meagre haul in comparison to the seven victories the Florida-based German piled up in 2017.
But his five second-placings in 2018 attest to a consistent level of excellence that shows no sign of waning.
Father Time will catch up with Langer at some stage, but so far it has kept its distance.
Langer knows his power must inevitably decline sooner or later, but points out that there is much more to golf than just hitting the ball a long way.
"Golf, it’s a lot up here," Langer said, tapping his head as he spoke to Reuters on the eve of the SAS Championship.
"You always find the odd guy who keeps winning longer than other guys and some guys who are mentally stronger or physically healthier."
Langer's face is now lined, evidence of a life spent in the sun, but he otherwise displays few outward signs of aging. He remains clear-eyed, has a full head of hair and barely an excess gram of fat on his washboard stomach.
Twice a major champion - at the 1985 and 1993 U.S. Masters - and the first world number one when the rankings were created in 1986, he is one of only four continental European men with multiple major titles.
Spaniards Seve Ballesteros (five) and Jose Maria Olazabal (two) and German Martin Kaymer (two) also belong in the elite group.
Langer must wait nearly two more years before he will have a chance to surpass Mike Fetchick as the oldest winner on the Champions Tour. Fetchick won an event on his 63rd birthday in 1985.
"Most tournaments are won between age 50 and 54, fewer between 54 and 57, and then really few between 58 and 60 and then hardly any beyond that," Langer said.
"Going on that I should hardly have won any (in recent years). I don’t really look at that. I’m just trying to get the most out of my game."
Fellow pro Scott McCarron, at 53 a young whipper-snapper in comparison to Langer, marvels at his rival's competitive longevity.
Asked to guess at how much longer Langer can contend to win,
McCarron paused a moment to think about it.
"There has to be obviously (an end point)," McCarron said.
"If you stay in shape I think you can be competitive in your early 60s.
"The problem you have is the guys who are coming out who are 50 -- younger, stronger, a little faster. I don’t know, is there an end at 63, 64?"
It is a question that Langer will answer in the next few years.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond)