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Brilliant Bernhard

Thursday, February 14, 2019
Brilliant Bernard

Former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez spoke to Tony about the winners of last week’s tournaments.

“Last weekend proved a really positive one for world golf with good-news stories involving Phil Mickelson, Bernhard Langer and David Law.

That was a great win for Phil at Pebble Beach. Paul Casey shot a solid 71 in the final round so he didn’t lose it, it was more a case of Phil going out and grabbing the event by the scruff of the neck with his closing 65.

Phil has a dedicated fitness regime off the course and realises that the main key at his time of life is enthusiasm and, for him, it doesn’t seem to have waned. He may be 48 now but he has certainly not been sitting on his laurels waiting for the time when he can play on the Seniors Tour. He continues to push forward in a bid to find ways to improve his game.

He admits it is all getting more difficult as he gets older and he has to spend time in the gym and watch his diet and stuff. It is a great credit to him because his planning is paying off. It is not often you see guys of 48 making such an impact on world golf. By that time players are normally looking ahead to lining up alongside the seniors.

I take my hat off to him. When Phil first set out in this game his manager said he would have a $50 million career. Well, he has almost made over $50 million a year ! He’s still pushing himself and is still determined to succeed.

Ironically, despite his five major wins and all his accomplishments, he has never been world number one. One area where he seems to have received a boost is by gaining distance off the tee in recent times. He is not that accurate with the driver but you don’t have to be these days.

Now it’ll be interesting to see who does best this year, Phil or Tiger. They are both old timers now and there’s always been a great rivalry between the two but it is Phil who has hit the ground running this season.

Langer, meanwhile, also produced a great performance to win at Boca Raton and surpass Hale Irwin’s senior tour record of $27 million in career earnings.

Bernhard is 61 now but what a competitor he is. You have to admire the way he continues to push himself on and off the course.

He’s always had tremendous discipline and he keeps getting rewarded for it. He’s had a phenomenal career. He is so strong mentally, the way he overcame the yips is an example of that, and he is a tremendously committed individual.

He never said much in the locker room in my time as Ryder Cup captain but the thing with Bernhard was that you could partner him with anyone. I was a great believer in chemistry between players. Some guys play better with certain guys, it raises their game, but with Bernhard it didn’t matter. He could play with anyone.

I paired him with Nick Faldo, with Ken Brown, it didn’t matter a jot to him. He was always going to get the best out of himself regardless.

Bernhard once told me he was tired and would like the afternoon off. I took him to one side and told him he was a great player, a major champion. I told him. ‘You might be a little tired but my alternative to you is not as good as you will be’. He liked the flattery but it wasn’t flattery it was the truth. And of course he went out and did his magic. He was a special player and still is a special player.

It was heartening too to see Law win on the European Tour in Australia at the weekend. He seems to be something of a Paul Lawrie Scottish protege and it’s always good to see a first time winner breaking through in his rookie season”