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Bernhard Langer shoots 63, challenging for Principal Charity Classic

So much for Bernhard Langer re-entering the life of the PGA Tour Champions.

After tearing his left Achilles tendon while playing pickleball on February 1, Langer returned to action just three months later in early May at the Insperity Invitational in Houston.

Now, less than a month after beating those odds, the 66-year-old is at it again, this time competing for a title at the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa.

Langer used a smart finish at the renovated Wakonda Golf Club to end the day with a 63 and is at 13 under after the first two rounds of the event. He was the leader of the clubhouse as he ended up with big names like Ernie Els, David Duval, Vijay Singh and Stephen Ames all in the hunt.

Wakonda recently underwent a restoration by golf architect Tyler Rae and his collaborator Jim Ryan Jr. The course opened in 1922 with a design by William Langford, who began building courses during the golden age of golf design. Langford generally worked with partner Theodore J. Moreau until the early 1940s, before later striking out on his own.

And while the changes have modernized the course, they have also made it more difficult for players like Langer.

“The way they renovated it makes it even more of a bomber’s paradise. Or it wasn’t before,” Langer said. “It used to be the kind of course where a Jerry Kelly or someone who rode it really straight, Joe Durant, those types of players. Balls coming out of the Rough are not easy here, but now they are – as I look here at No. 10 and No. 8, the largest fairway in the world, and 18, the tall guys can drive over the green. Someone like me, I rode it the best I could, just to get it over the bunker, that kind of thing. They can reach all the par 5’s, I’m having trouble reaching some of them.

“So length is always important, but yes, it used to be about precision and it’s a little less about it, but it’s still important.”

Either way, Langer is in the thick of things heading into the final round, and a win would give him 47 points in the PGA Tour Champions. Due to injuries and other reasons, Langer has not won since the 2023 U.S. Senior Open, when he defeated Steve Stricker by two strokes at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

“I still make some bad shots, especially when I’m in awkward positions,” he said. “The feet are high or low, or sideways, downhill, my balance is off because the foot that was operated on just doesn’t have the support or flexibility to stabilize my swing and my weight during the swing. That’s why I hit it thin, I hit it thick, whatever. Anything can happen now.

“I tried a driver yesterday from an uphill route and I almost came out on top. I’m not there, but I’m grateful that I can use a cart to get around.”