If Phil Mickelson is the Tom Brady of golf, then Bernhard Langer must be George Blanda.
Langer beat Doug Barron on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff Sunday to win the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va., and became the oldest winner in senior golf history at the age of 64 years and change.
About 15 minutes after his two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th hole forced a playoff with Barron at 14-under 202, Langer sank a five-foot birdie putt on the same hole at The Country Club of Virginia to win for the 42nd time on the PGA Tour Champions, three shy of Hale Irwin’s all-time record for victories. Barron lipped out from six feet for birdie to open the door for Langer, 12 years older, to win for the first time in 20 months.
“I’ve been knocking on the door. I’ve lost a bunch of playoffs. I tried to forget about that and block it out of my mind because I’ve had a lot of close calls,” said Langer, who, by the way, beat defending champion Mickelson by 14 strokes. “It’s an awesome feeling. I hadn’t won since Tucson last year, but that’s how much sweeter it is.”
Langer, who had four runner-up finishes since his last win, extended to 15 his streak of consecutive calendar years with at least one victory. The German native shot a closing three-under 69, while Barron, 52, seeking his third senior title, had a 68 that included birdies on two of his last four holes.
“I don’t aspire to play when I’m at the same age as him. He’s just an anomaly,” Barron said of Blanda … er, Langer. “He’s incredibly, incredibly gifted, and he’s one of my heroes and good friends. If I’m going to get beat, I don’t mind getting beat by him. He’s one of those guys that you just never can pull against.”
Langer extended his lead in the Charles Schwab Cup, the season-long points race that extends to the beginning of 2020 after the COVD-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of a number of tournaments. He has won the Schwab Cup five times; no one else has won it more than twice.
“The Schwab Cup is the next goal as it has been for a year and a half or two years now,” Langer said. “We’re a little bit closer, but it’s not over yet.”
Steve Flesch, who began the day with a two-stroke lead over Langer and Steven Alker, ended up solo third after a 73. Mickelson played his final six holes in six over par, including a quadruple-bogey 9 at his final hole, but still shot 71. He finished T-47.