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The Man Who Sits By The Door Image Credit: Golf Digest
The Man Who Sits By The Door Image Credit: Golf Digest

The Man Who Sits By The Door

BERNHARD LANGER was 15 years old when he had his first attack of the yips.

Jerry Tarde

Asked later how he kept up his spirits after missing two-footers, Langer replied: “I take encouragement from those rare days when I don’t four-putt.”

As a misser of two-footers, I read that sentence painfully.

Through the years, Langer would face four prolonged battles with the yips, the last in 1997, which should give all of us the solace of that famous Yiddish golf tip: gam zeh ya’avor. This too shall pass.

I asked Bernhard the same question recently. “When you go through it, it’s depressing, disheartening,” he said. “You know if it goes on, you’ll be done. Two things helped me in those times: The knowledge that I was a good ball-striker, one of the best on tour. I knew if I kept trying, I would figure it out. And second, my faith in God.” He also experimented with different putting styles, leading eventually to his embrace of the long putter.

Langer is to Europe what Byron Nelson was to the American tour: one of the co-founders, a dependable iron player, a tournament winner of enormous integrity and a God-fearing gentleman. Unlike Nelson, he came early to the tour and stayed. Langer turned pro at 15, won his first tournament at 17, and 47 years later is still winning on the Champions Tour.

Dan Jenkins used to describe him in casual conversation as “the son of a Czech bricklayer who settled in Anhausen, Germany, after he leaped from a Russian POW train at the end of the Second

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