You can’t beat old Father Time. Bernhard Langer has given him a good joust, mind you. They’re probably all-square playing the 18th.

At 66, Langer still looks as trim and tidy as he did in 1976 when he joined the European Tour. Yes, there are some wrinkles here and the odd furrow there but, by and large, he’s a wonderfully preserved specimen who could just about be accompanied by his own curator as he takes to the tee.

Such is the German veteran’s astonishing longevity, many remain convinced that his body is actually made up of an elaborate system of durable cranks, pistons, pulleys, cylinders and gaskets. But just hold on a minute.

The other night, he announced that he’d torn his Achilles tendon while exercising. Perhaps auld Faither Time thought the only way to stop Langer was to hit him with a cynical blow such as this? And in this year of all years too.

In April, Langer was set to make a visor-doffing, dewy-eyed farewell appearance at the Masters, 42 years after his debut in a tournament he has won twice.

As recently as 2020, he finished 29th but he's not made the cut since. Langer had decided it was time to say auf wiedersehn to Augusta in the spring but this swansong now appears scuppered. With a lifetime exemption, though, he may wait until next year to wave ta-ta. At least it will give him more time to prepare himself for the emotion of it all.

“I'm not sure how to get myself ready for that,” he said earlier in the week before the shattering development which could keep this seemingly imperishable campaigner sidelined for months.

Knowing Langer, he will embrace the challenge of returning to competitive action. It is what sustains him, after all. “I'm a very competitive person, I love to compete,” he said. “I turned pro at 15, joined the tour when I was 18, so I've been doing this a very long time. It's hard to envision my life without it.”

Here's hoping there’s still plenty of golfing life left in him. Last season, Langer won a record 46th title on the over-50s circuit. He believes there’s still room on the mantelpiece for a few more trophies and trinkets. And there’s always room too for improvement in this fascinating, fickle and flummoxing game that nobody will ever truly master.

“I've never had a problem setting new goals,” he added. “You may be laughing at me and thinking, ‘you're 66, you're not going to improve’. Well, I know every day I play golf, I could be better.

"I could be a better putter. I could be a better chipper or bunker player, and I could hit one more fairway, one more green. And the goal is always to win because you get that adrenaline rush when you're in contention.”

Langer, with a canny game built around precision and patience rather than power, has been a winner in six different decades. Golf has changed a bit in that time.

Financially, it’s a whole new ball game. The current to-ing and fro-ing involving the established tours and the Saudi Public Investment Fund is inching towards some kind of agreement while the PGA Tour’s newly announced $3 billion equity deal has simply added to the dizzying amounts of cash that are being tossed around in the top end of the men’s game.

“We (the Champions Tour) are affiliated with the PGA Tour so hopefully they will not forget us and leave us in the dust,” said Langer of his hopes for some loose change for the golden oldies circuit.

In a money-driven age when golf has been riven by debates, defections, greed, entitlement, hypocrisy and anything else you want to fling into the pot, Langer’s cherished old values continue to stand him in good stead.

“The best lesson I learned (from my parents) was to always be honest and straightforward, not to lie, not to cheat,” he reflected. “I tried to get away with some things when I was a kid, and that didn't turn out very good.

"So, I learned the hard way. But it was a great lesson. If you promise something, do it, and if you do a task, whatever it is, do it to the best of your capability. That's what I was taught by my parents. If you clean the floor, clean the floor so it is clean; don't leave some behind. Give it 100 percent, and be proud of what you're doing.”

Despite this cruel twist, Langer will continue to do all that.