After tearing his Achilles, Bernhard Langer is back at the Insperity Invitational, just the latest obstacle he’s overcome as detailed in new book

Bernhard Langer is back.

The 66-year-old Energizer Bunny of PGA Tour Champions, who tore his left Achilles tendon while playing pickleball on Feb. 1, defied the odds and returns to action just 3 months later at the Insperity Invitational this week.

“I was talking to my surgeon and my PT – you know how long will this recovery be and they were well, 4-6 months, and I was like I got this tournament that I’d love to play, it’s in 3 months,” Langer recalled Wednesday during a pre-tournament press conference. “And they were going, well, we don’t know about that. I love this Tournament, Insperity. I have won it four times, it was my first victory on this Tour. The other thing I was arguing with my PT and my surgeon is that Houston is very flat. It is like south Florida, easy to walk and get around. It is not hilly. They finally agreed after I played about a week ago and showed them I am capable of doing this. There are no restrictions, I am not in pain, and they all said alright you have our blessing – go and be careful.”

Overcoming obstacles is nothing new for Langer, who has been doing it all his life. In the new book “Life on the Green: Lessons and Wisdom from Legends of Golf,” sports broadcaster Ann Liguori chronicles some of the obstacles that Langer has faced in his life starting from his birth. Langer’s mother was told that she ran a high risk of losing her child and her own life.

“She went to the doctor and the doctor said, ‘Well, Mrs. Langer, you need to abort the child because if you don’t, you’re going to kill yourself and the baby, and then you leave a husband behind with two little kids.’ And my mother said, ‘No, I’m not going to abort,’ ” Langer recalls.

They both made it through with Bernhard being born on Aug. 27, 1957, in the village of Anhausen, near Augsburg, Germany, the youngest of three children of Erwin and Walburga (Wally) Langer.

Langer had another near-death experience as a baby when his temperature spiked so high that the doctor said, “There’s nothing we can do anymore. We don’t have any medication that can bring the fever down. We have no remedies and he’s probably going to die.”

Perhaps the ability to cheat death is an inherited trait. Langer’s father was a prisoner of war during World War II and was on his way to a Siberian prison camp when he jumped off a train and escaped at night while being shot at. Erwin Langer, who became a bricklayer, hid in the woods and traveled west at night back to Germany. A couple of weeks later the war ended.

It was Langer’s oldest brother, who worked as a caddie at the one golf club located 5 miles away from their home, that introduced Bernhard to the game when he was nine years old. Langer would ride his bicycle to the course.

“I begged him to take me and eventually he took me, and my first bag was the club champion, a 2-handicap, best player in the club and he liked this little nine-year-old plump kid and he said, ‘You’re going to be my regular caddie from here on in,’ ” Langer recalls in the book.

Langer became an expert at finding golf balls, which earned him bigger tips and the nickname Eagle Eye or “Wachsamer Blick” in German. “I realized if I smile and I’m happy and greet them and put on a good show, they’ll give me a tip,” Langer said. “Those are lessons I learned at a very young age.”

Langer is self-taught and he became good enough to turn pro at age 15. First he went to the Institute of Job Placement and was asked what career he wanted to pursue.

“I said, ‘I want to become a golf teacher, a golf professional.’ And the guy didn’t even know what that was. That just tells you how few people played golf in Germany. It wasn’t even a recognized profession,” Langer said.

A member at his club helped him get a job as an assistant. At 17, he met a businessman from Cologne who offered to sponsor him on the European Tour. “I knew I could at least try for two years on Tour without being bankrupt.,” Langer said.

1984 Masters Champion Ben Crenshaw shakes the hand of 1985 Masters Champion Bernhard Langer at the Presentation Ceremony during the 1985 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14th, 1985 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Augusta National/Getty Images)

He would go on to win the Masters twice, star in Ryder Cups and become the winningest senior golfer – all despite suffering from the yips on four separate occasions. The last time was in 1989 and his putting had gotten so bad that while playing in a tournament in Michigan, he dropped to his knees and prayed to God: “If you want me to give up this game, I’m happy to give it up. Just tell me if you want me to move on to something else.”

Jim Hiskey, a former tour pro who helped form the PGA Tour bible study group, told Langer, “I don’t think God is done with you. He wants you to continue to persevere as hard as it may seem right now, and he’s got bigger plans for you, so keep going.”

Ligouri’s book goes on to share what Langer describes as the key to his longevity and how his longevity has become his hallmark.

Langer is just one of a dozen legends to offer inspiration and insight in Liguori’s new book. “Life on the Green” also details the lessons that built the likes of Nancy Lopez, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam into champions in golf and in life.

Given all that Langer has overcome and accomplished, it’s fair to ask what will he do next? Langer said he’s going to try to ease back into competition, knowing he’s not quite fully healed yet.

“Most tournaments I arrive and I’m hoping to be in contention on Sunday afternoon, and I know I may only win one, or two, or three a year, but I’d like to think I am one of those that might have a chance,” he said ahead of the Insperity Invitational. “I don’t really expect that of me right now, not this week and maybe not next week either, but in a few weeks from now I think I should be expecting that again. And, so that is where I am.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek