Bernhard Langer is trying to bounce back from thumb surgery.
Toby Melville/Reuters
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

SANDWICH, England (AP) — Bernhard Langer has written off his chances of winning the British Open, four months after thumb surgery.

The 53-year-old German is short on practice coming into a major tournament he's never won in 30 attempts.

The former Europe Ryder Cup captain said he hasn't got the length off the tee to challenge the game's big hitters at Royal St. George's this week.

"I don't think I have a chance because I'm been playing literally no golf for four months," Langer told The Associated Press off the 18th green on Wednesday. "I had surgery on my thumb in March and it's been terrible. I couldn't practice, couldn't play.

"I played a couple of events in Germany but it was still not very good. Then I took two more weeks off for recovery. I've played a few days in four months. That's not enough."

Langer has two Masters titles and came close to adding the British Open to his collection.

One of his two second-place finishes came at Royal St. George's in 1981. He's also been third in 1993 and at Sandwich in 1985.

Langer said the course hasn't changed much in 20 years, but the players have improved.

"Right now, I feel some of these guys are hitting it so much further than me," said Langer, who is bidding to become the oldest player to win the British Open, surpassing Tom Morris Sr. by seven years.

"Like here (on the 18th), I had a drive and then a 2 iron into this green. There's a bunch of these holes where I think I'm hitting a lot of club to some of these greens. It makes it so much harder."

Langer said he's using the 2 iron for the first time in about two years.

"The club's not rusty - I'm the one that's rusty," he said, joking.

Langer is playing at the Open for the first time since 2006. He posted back-to-back majors (British Open and U.S. Open) in 2010 on the senior tour.

However, an odd thumb injury last fall derailed his play. Riding on a bike to a beach in south Florida, he came to an intersection and reached out to push the traffic signal button. He tried to press the button with the palm of his hand while still moving and tore a ligament in his left thumb.

Langer said his thumb is still stiff.

"If I had been playing the last four months and been in good form like I had been the last three or four years, I'd probably be somewhat confident I could do well here. But that's not the case," Langer said.

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