Bernhard Langer Credits NFL Star Aaron Rodgers As Inspiration Behind Rapid Return From Injury

Bernhard Langer says Aaron Rodgers was a big inspiration in him returning to action just three months after Achilles surgery

Aaron Rodgers and Bernhard Langer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

He's had a remarkable seniors career winning trophy after trophy, but just teeing it up in the Insperity Invitational this week may be Bernhard Langer's greatest achievement - coming just three months after tearing his Achilles.

The 66-year-old tore his Achilles tendon at the start of February, but after immediate surgery he's now returning to competitive action on the PGA Tour Champions this week in Texas.

And the two-time Masters champion has credited NFL star Aaron Rodgers for helping inspire him in his comeback, as the New York Jets quarterback made a similar recovery from the same injury.

Four-time MVP Rodgers tore his Achilles just four plays into his Jets debut last September, but was back throwing the football within three months after having the new SpeedBridge procedure that Langer also had on his injury.

"I heard from other athletes who had similar injuries, like Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback of the New York Jets" Langer said in a social media video ahead of his comeback. 

"And so I followed his story and he came back pretty quickly.

"He had the same procedure done as me, with a SpeedBridge and all that, so that lifted my spirits when I heard he was back on the field throwing the ball after eight or nine weeks."

And Rodgers has given Langer a shoutout on social media, captioning a post with "Bernhard is a legend" on a story with a quote from Langer saying: "I talked to Aaron after the Masters. I followed his story and was encouraged that I might be able to do something similar."

40-year-old Rodgers, a keen golfer, proved you could play golf after an Achilles injury as he hit a hole-in-one in his first round post-surgery back in January.

If any senior golfer could perform such a comeback it's the well-oiled German machine Langer, as not many players of his age would find the desire to attempt such a physical effort, let alone achieve it.

After beating Hale Irwin’s seniors win record with his 46th title at the US Senior Open last year, and being the only man to win all five senior Majors, Langer has little to prove.

Yet Langer insists he can still be productive on the PGA Tour Champions, and after missing what would have been his farewell Masters appearance this year, probably wants a proper send-off at Augusta next April.

A winner of 130 professional golf tournaments across all six golf-playing continents, Langer will no doubt be pushing for more titles once he is back up to full speed.

You get a sense of the man when you consider how he actually did the Achilles injury in the first place - playing pickleball in Florida as part of his fitness regime.

“Part of my training is doing other things, like ping-pong and other sports," Langer said. "So I played pickleball with some of my friends. My opponent lobbed me and I did a few steps back, jumped up and hit it and as I landed, I heard this loud noise and pain in my leg. 

"I went down on the ground and at first I thought I hit something walking backwards but as I looked around there me was nothing there and I realized most likely it’s a torn Achilles tendon.

“I immediately started talking about, ‘Well, what does this mean?” he continued. "Because I had no idea, how long will I be out? Will I ever be back?”

Langer should have known better than to doubt himself - not many others doubt him, and after this incredible comeback the ageless German can seemingly do anything.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.