At 55, Bernhard Langer is playing some of the best golf of his career

At 55, Bernhard Langer is playing some of the best golf of his career

Bernhard Langer captained the Europeans to victory.
Andrew Redington / Getty Images

You not only made the cut at this year's Masters, but were also in the mix Sunday before tying for 25th. Did you drink from the Fountain of Youth?
It was the mindset of going into the tournament not just trying to make the cut but trying to contend and be on the leaderboard and have a chance to win on Sunday. Putting decently helped.

You started Sunday's round with three straight birdies. Was there a moment when you thought, "I can win this thing!"?
You don't want to get ahead of yourself. You don't win until the 72nd hole. I've made that mistake before and I wasn't going there, so I just enjoyed the moment, and I tried to play the best round I could.

It takes a hot putter to play Augusta well. You've been playing with the long putter for more than 15 years. Do you have a contingency plan if it gets banned?
I would probably use my long putter as long as I could, and then I'd have to find another way to putt. But I see no real reason [for the ban]. If it was simpler or easier or unfair, why isn't everyone using it? Who's using the big-headed driver or a graphite shaft or a hybrid? Everyone! Why? Because it's an advantage. Who's using a long putter? Twelve percent, 15 percent. Because it's not an advantage. That's all I need to say.

You've always been up front about your struggle with the yips. How often do you think about the short putt you missed to cost Europe the 1991 Ryder Cup?
Never, really. Last year, there were a lot of highlights brought up from Kiawah, so I saw it a lot then, but now I don't think about it at all. I think I've done enough positive things to make up for that, so I can live with it, and that's the most important thing.

German Martin Kaymer said that he thought of you when he was standing over his putt to win the Ryder Cup at Medinah last year.
Yeah, I know that. I can't believe it. [Laughs] I wasn't happy when I saw his first putt [on 18] roll that far by. I was watching on TV thinking, All you have to do is two-putt from here and you win, and he knocks it six feet by. I couldn't believe he was thinking of me at that point. Not the best thing to do, but he kept his nerve and made a great stroke.

Your fellow fiftysomething player Vijay Singh successfully appealed a suspension from the PGA Tour after he admitted to using deer antler spray. Should he have been punished?
It's a tough one. I don't think he knew [the deer antler spray] was on the forbidden list, but not knowing doesn't mean you're not going to get punished, right? He probably should have checked. I was actually given some deer antler spray from the same guy that gave it to Vijay. He sent me a small bottle and I never touched it because I didn't know what it was going to do to me.

Do you think Champions Tour players might be more tempted to take performance-enhancing drugs than PGA Tour players?
I don't think anyone takes anything out here. I try to stay away from all [enhancing substances]. The body is amazingly made. It should be left alone instead of putting these chemicals in.

You recently won your 18th Champions Tour event. What's the secret to playing great golf at 55?
It's a combination of things. You need to be healthy. You still need to be driven. You need to want to be out there. You get more mature and more settled in life, and you know more about what shots you can and can't hit. I'm not going to try silly shots that I might have tried 20 years ago under pressure.

Do you ever think about retiring?
Yeah, I've been asked that for years now. It could happen. All it takes is a serious injury. But as I've always said, if I stay healthy, if I love the game, and if I have some success in it, I'll keep playing.