Bill Elliott looks at the opening round of Bernhard Langer - a man with "a life story like no other."
He was there again this afternoon at the Masters, looking much as he did all those years ago, still slim, still wearing his serious face and still tilting at the windmill known as Augusta.
And for Bernhard Langer it was business as usual, his opening 68 putting him into a tie for 10th place alongside the likes of Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood. The really interesting thing about this is that Bernhard is now 63 years old. This at least is his chronological age, biologically he is somewhere in his mid-forties.
It is now 41 years since I first saw him play golf. At that time he was still roaring around Europe in a beat-up Escort and still waiting for the first real attack of the yips. He was then and remains now a figure of enormous charm, intelligence and integrity.
Six years later he won the first of his two Masters titles and he asked if I would help him to write his life story (‘While The Iron Is Hot’ – read it if you can, not because I wrote it but because his is a story worth knowing, his journey from poverty stricken childhood to world star an inspiration). It was during this period that I really got to know him and to admire him.
He is, of course, deeply religious and I am not. Despite our differences we enjoyed many an evening debating the existence of a deity. He usually won, not because he was right but because he only drank water while he insisted I order another bottle of wine which, incidentally, he paid for.
Years later when my wife and I had some alarming medical problems, one of the first people to ring me was Bernhard. He said that he knew I was not a Christian and so he wanted permission to include me and my wife in his evening prayers.
I was then, and remain now, greatly moved by his elegance in asking that question and as Val and I are still alive he may well have a point about his God.
Whatever the truth is there, the other thought is that judged how you may wish, Bernhard Langer is probably the classiest act ever to walk on the world’s golf stages. He offers a rare template for grace and I can think of no better golfer or person to play with or root for whether at Augusta or anywhere else.
His opening 68 in this Masters is just the latest sentence in a life story like no other. Well done my friend, very, very well done.