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Bernard Langer turns 50 years old

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady paid a special tribute to mark the 50th birthday of twice former U.S. Masters champion Bernhard Langer on Monday.

"Bernhard was not only an outstanding player and one of a distinguished group of major champions, he was a leader in the growth of the tour and also a successful Ryder Cup player and captain," O'Grady told the tour's web site.

"Everyone at the tour wishes him a very happy 50th birthday and many more successes on and off the fairways."

The likeable German was an integral member of Europe's 'Big Five' which also included major winners Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle and blazed a trail of glory in the 1980s and 1990s.

Unlike his close rivals, though, Langer still occasionally shows glimpses of his old form.

On Sunday, he came close to becoming the oldest winner on the tour when he finished four strokes adrift of Dutch Open champion Ross Fisher of Britain.

Langer has chalked up 66 worldwide wins, including 42 on the European circuit and his two Masters triumphs in 1985 and 1993.

He made 10 Ryder Cup appearances, earning 24 points from 42 matches, and captained the team to a record victory by 18 1/2 points to 9 1/2 over the United States in Michigan three years ago.

"The highlights were firstly my two Masters victories," said Langer. "Becoming a major champion is what you dream about.

"Also very special was my first professional win, the world under-25 championship in 1979. I won by 17 shots which I think is still a record. That was the first time I felt I could really compete at the highest level."

The run-up to Langer's 50th birthday was made more special when his eldest son Stefan, 17, competed at the Dutch Open as an amateur.

"It was a wonderful thing and great experience to be in the same field together," said Langer Sr.

"Coming from Germany, where golf was nothing at the time I grew up, I am very happy with the way things have turned out. Looking back over the last 33 years I have had lots of ups and downs but a lot more ups than downs.

"I would do it pretty much all over again."



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